Manchester United are being strongly tipped to launch a summer assault to sign Declan Rice after it was claimed three senior figures all outlined the West Ham man as a top target.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has long been an admirer of the England star and has long considered a move for the 22-year-old.
Now a summer approach looks set to get the go ahead. That’s after The Sun claimed football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher both agreed Rice should be prioritised.
It’s reported the trio all see Rice as a potential kingpin in the United midfield for a decade to come – and signing him could be the catapult for a period of sustained success.
Signing Rice though will not be easy – or come cheap. The Hammers skipper has previously been touted at around £80million.
However, Hammers co-owner David Sullivan is understood to value his prized asset at nearer £100m. Not that David Moyes agrees.
Moyes said: “I don’t agree with the owners that Declan Rice is a £100m footballer. Far, far more than £100m. Far, far more.
“I look at the players who have joined some clubs from overseas and come in and nowhere near had the impact Declan Rice would have.
“I certainly wouldn’t put a price on it. You can decide which figure you want to put on it but I wouldn’t be sanctioning anything like that, that’s for sure.”
However, it seems United’s three senior figures do think differently. As such, The Sun claims a bid close to the £80m which brought Harry Maguire to United could be launched.
Previous reports claim Solskjaer and Co could even look to offer West Ham three players to bring down Rice’s price.
The first one out the door will be Jesse Lingard, who should complete a £15m move to West Ham. He has found his groove again under David Moyes as the Hammers chase a European place.
Solskjaer also hopes to raise up to £10m from the sale of forgotten defender Phil Jones. He’s not played for United all season, but still has admirers in the game. As well as West Ham, the likes of Burnley and Newcastle have been previously linked.
United could also offer the Hammers an instant replacement for Rice in the form of Nemanja Matic.
The Serb has been used sparingly this season, with Fred and Scott McTominay preferred in the engine room.
Matic has been linked with a return to former club Benfica having spent three years in Portugal between 2011-14.
However, Portuguese journalist Rui Pedro Braz has laid out several reasons why a move is unlikely despite the club making similar type moves for Premier League veterans Jan Vertonghen and Nicolas Otamendi six months ago.
That could open the door to West Ham.
Depending on how many of the three West Ham take, that could reduce United’s investment in Rice significantly.
Moyes discusses Rice future
Moyes, meanwhile, insists West Ham don’t need a top-four finish to retain Rice’s services.
Speaking after the recent win over Leeds, he said: “Do we need the Champions League to keep Declan? No, because Declan is under contract first and foremost, so he can’t go anywhere no matter what, and I keep saying it and I hope people know that when I say something, I mean it.
“We’ve not had an offer for Declan Rice and I hope we don’t get one. And you’ve got an idea now of where we’d need to be if it was even going to be considered, certainly be me.
“If we could finish in Europe, in some sort of European position, I think it would be progress. And that would be progress for Declan Rice as well because he’s been at West Ham while they’ve been bobbing around the bottom, so this is new for Declan as well.
“Declan seems very settled and in fact he is captaining West Ham, he plays for England, and I want to keep Declan thinking that his ambitions can be achieved here at West Ham and I will have to keep pushing that and keep pushing that with the owners as well.”