Manchester United’s chances of signing West Ham star Declan Rice have been given a timely boost after Chelsea turned their attention elsewhere. Chelsea have long been interested in bringing Rice back to the club he left as a teenager but are now reportedly considering a cheaper move for PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ibrahim Sangare.
United are in need of central midfielders this summer, with Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic among those set to leave the club in the off-season. Incoming manager Erik ten Hag will be given a budget of £100million to reinforce the side’s ailing squad, with midfield a priority.
As the Daily Star recently reported, however, their plans have hit early bumps in the road, with their four top targets proving difficult to lure to Old Trafford. United have reportedly shortlisted Rice, Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips, Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham and Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic for a big-money summer move, while Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong has also been strongly linked.
Phillips is understood not to be keen on joining a rival club, Dortmund are unwilling to lose Bellingham in the same transfer window as Manchester City-bound Erling Haaland, while Lazio have ruled out the sale of Milinkovic-Savic. That leaves Rice, who has enjoyed a brilliant season for West Ham to attract widespread interest.
Rice’s West Ham contract has two years to run and the club also have the option to extend it by a further 12 months until 2025. Reports this week said West Ham had offered Rice a staggering eight-year deal worth £200,000 per week, which would make him the highest-paid player in the club’s history.
The 23-year-old midfielder rejected the offer and is understood to be open to leaving this summer. That could play into United’s hands, with Pogba’s exit freeing up space on the wage bill.
However, Rice’s desire to play Champions League football could prove problematic for United, who are sixth in the Premier League – a place above West Ham – and heading for a season in the Europa League under Ten Hag.