Manchester United officials have an initial plan in place to sign the player they’ve settled on as their primary midfield target, a report has claimed.
United had an exemplary summer transfer window. Capturing the trio of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo is astonishing recruitment and a dream both for Red Devils fans and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Yet, they still have problem positions.
In between the sticks was an area of concern last season with David de Gea and Dean Henderson failing to impress consistently.
Ronaldo has plugged the gap of a goalscoring frontman but they are still in need of a new long-term striker next summer.
And they failed to address their obvious lack of a dominating defensive midfielder, which will also be a priority come the end of the season.
Indeed, the club’s executives have already discussed the potential framework for a deal to solve that issue.
The 22-year-old has less than three years left on his deal with West Ham so should be available for sale next summer.
Solskjaer was reportedly keen on getting a new midfielder in but Varane and Sancho were prioritised instead.
Rice is not keen on signing a new deal with the Hammers and previously expressed an interest in moving to Old Trafford earlier this year.
While on international duty in March he asked his England teammates Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw about the club, also reported by the MEN.
United believe the strong English presence in their squad gives them the edge in the battle for Rice over their Premier League rivals Chelsea.
Rice fight set to ensue in 2022
Rice of course grew up in Chelsea’s academy and they, like United, have eyed him for a number of years.
The Blues will decline the £34m option to make Saul Niguez’s stay at Stamford Bridge permanent if Rice is available for a certain price, according to Caught Offside.
Chelsea signed Saul on a season-long loan deal that they can turn into a long-term move should they want to.
But the report, via Spanish outlet Don Balon, states that if Rice is available for around £70m then they will pursue him instead.