Manchester United are apparently back in pursuit of West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice and hope to sign the player this summer.
The Old Trafford side have been linked with the England international since he broke through at the London club but could now have a useful lever to pull in their attempts to push a deal through at the end of the season.
Following Jesse Lingard’s impressive start to life at West Ham after joining the club on loan in January, Man Utd could apparently use the forward as a counterweight in any deal that is put together in the summer.
According to the Athletic, West Ham are desperate to sign the forward on a permanent deal and could be tempted into some sort of player swap.
But would Rice be a suitable transfer target for Man Utd this summer and would he add anything new to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad?
Do Man United need Rice?
Although Rice can play as a central defender, the young player has been deployed as a midfielder for West Ham over the last two years.
Indeed, last season he predominantly played a ball winning central midfielder in the Premier League and this season under David Moyes he has shifted slightly towards more of a holding midfielder or more traditional box-to-box player.
As good as Rice has been in that role for West Ham, there’s no real obvious reason why Man Utd would feel the need to sign another player that plays that role. Solskjaer already has Scott McTominay and Fred as his go-to combative midfielders, as well as Nemanja Matic. And all three are on long-term contracts.
Unless United hope to sign Rice and convert him back into a ball-playing central defender, it seems unlikely that the England international would even get a regular start in Solskjaer’s side ahead of the aforementioned midfielders or more attacking options like Paul Pogba or Donny van de Beek.
United should prioritise other positions
Such is Man United’s strength in depth in the middle of the pitch that it would make sense for Solskjaer and his back-room staff to spend their transfer budget on other positions in the summer transfer window.
Should Pogba demand a move elsewhere at the end of the season, it seems likely that the vast majority of United’s budget will go towards replacing the French international. But if he stays then the priority really should be in signing another central defender and alternative options at left and right-back.
When asked where he thinks Solskjaer should strengthen his squad this month, Paul Scholes recently stated that he thought the defence was United’s main concern going forward.
“As a back-four, I worry about how good they really are,” the 46-year-old coach and former player told ESPN.
“At full-back, Aaron Wan-Bisssaka is just about defending, which is fine for a game at Liverpool, but I’m not sure what Luke Shaw brings to the team.
“In the middle, Ole still has to find Harry Maguire’s best partner. Eric Bailly has pace, but he is rash and picks up too many injuries.
“Victor Lindelof plays the position better and seems to be Ole’s preferred option, but again, he is not totally convincing.”