Why Man Utd spent £120m in the summer but still desperately need Rice

Stefan Bienkowski
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When Manchester United face West Ham on Sunday there will be little doubt that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to start as many of his newly-acquired stars as possible.

After a summer transfer window that saw the club spend no less than £126 million on stars like Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Red Devils have shot to the top of many Premier League prediction lists.

Indeed, Solskjaer can now lay claim to one of the most expensive assembled squads in the history of football. And with that will come a huge degree of expectation from fans and the club’s board.

However, when they step out onto the pitch on Sunday afternoon, Man Utd will be confronted by a player that seemingly continues to avoid their grasp and undermine their squad-building credentials with every passing performance for the Hammers.

I’m of course talking about Declan Rice. The player Man Utd are desperate to sign next summer, according to the Independent, and perhaps the final piece of the puzzle in Solskjaer’s quest for silverware.

Why Man Utd still need Rice

Although Man Utd made notable investments in defence, on the wings and in attack, they undoubtedly missed out on bringing in a new central midfielder and it certainly shows in some of their games.

While Paul Pogba has looked back to his best in the middle of the park, the France international is more of a playmaker than a box-to-box gladiator and often leaves the hard work of stopping opposing counter attacks to Fred. Who still struggles to convince Man Utd fans that he’s worth trusting on his own in the middle of the pitch.

Scott McTominay is certainly no slouch in the box-to-box role, but the Scot is like Pogba in his preference to move into the final third than defend his own half and Donny van de Beek remains a complete mystery to everyone at Old Trafford.

In Rice, Man Utd would have a midfielder that can provide defensive fortitude and a remarkable ability to glide up the pitch with the ball and create chances for Man Utd’s well-stocked front line.

The Old Trafford club may have opted out of making a real move for Rice this summer but against West Ham on Sunday they may be reminded of what they’re missing in the middle of the park.