Would Declan Rice be the Ideal Signing for United in the Summer?
Declan Rice has been the golden boy at West Ham United since his promotion from the Academy in 2017. He has played 192 games for the London Stadium club, and in that time has become a regular starter for England, with 39 showings for the Three Lions.
It's no secret that Rice believes he is destined for bigger and better things, and he knows it will be difficult to win trophies when lining up for the Irons. It’s widely believed that the midfielder will be sold to a top club in the summer, it’s just a question of which one. It could be argued that Manchester United would be the best fit for the player, and he could massively boost the Red Devils’ fortunes in the season ahead.
Rice Will Leave West Ham in the Summer
When the summer transfer window rolls around, Rice will only have 12 months left on his contract with West Ham. The club’s hierarchy has been trying to keep hold of the dynamic midfield general by pinning him down to a new contract, but Rice has adamantly refused to put pen to paper. Now, the club risk letting him go for free in the summer of 2024 if they don’t sell him this year.
After playing a major part in Rice’s development and helping him become the footballer he is today, West Ham will want to get maximum value from a sale. The Irons have valued the England international at more than £100 million, but analysts of the transfer market at CIES Football Observatory believe he’s worth £70 million. That doesn’t mean to say that he will go for the lower price, though. The market has become inflated in recent years, especially with the recent purchase of Enzo Fernandez for £106 million by Chelsea. This suggests that Rice could go on to smash that record.
There are plenty of suitors for Rice, and it seems to be more of a question of where he will go, not if. For some time, there had been talk of Chelsea signing the player, as this was where he first started out as an academy prospect between 2006 and 2014. Rice has also expressed a desire to stay in London, if possible, with Arsenal being another potential destination. With both Chelsea and Arsenal, however, it could be argued that they are already strong enough in midfield and should look for reinforcements in different areas.
The player who represented the Republic of Ireland, up until his call-up for England in 2019, is most likely to go to Arsenal in the summer. That’s according to the odds from BetVictor, who have him placed at 5/2 to make the switch at the time of writing. The site is recommended as one of the best betting sites in Ireland, mainly because of the healthy number of free bets players get when they sign up. Rice’s Chelsea move can be backed at 6/1, while a switch to United is rated at 8/1.
United are the team in most need of a player like Rice. The weak point for the Old Trafford club has been the centre of the park for some time. When Erik ten Hag stepped in as manager last summer, he quickly identified that this area needed drastic improvement. This led to the signing of Casemiro for £60 million on a four-year contract, a deal that will go down as one of the biggest signings of the season. With added strength in that area alongside the Brazilian, United would have an incredible foundation with which to build attacks.
Partnership with Casemiro Could be Incredible
There’s no doubt that Casemiro’s addition has transformed United’s midfield and made them a force to be reckoned with. However, there are still glaring weaknesses in the centre of the park, and these are made more obvious when the 31-year-old is out of action. Ten Hag doesn’t have much depth in that position, and he usually has to call on one either Fred or Scott McTominay to partner Casemiro in the double pivot.
It's exciting to think what kind of partnership Casemiro and Rice could have if they teamed up alongside each other at Old Trafford. Rice’s reliability as a defensive shield and capability to break up attacks could give Casemiro even more licence to roam forward. The Brazilian has already shown that he’s good at getting into dangerous areas to finish off chances, with three goals and five assists to his name after 22 games. Knowing that he has someone as capable as Rice to cover his defensive duties, the former Real Madrid man could easily improve on that tally.
Partnering alongside Casemiro would be the perfect move for Rice as well, as it would give him time alongside one of the greatest players in the world in the position. The England international would be able to learn a lot from the five-time Champions League winner and would most certainly elevate his game to the next level.
This would not just be beneficial for United, but for Gareth Southgate’s England too. It will certainly be a tough choice for Rice if he’s faced with a few different options in the summer. Would he still prefer to stay in London if that meant giving up the opportunity to play alongside one of the best defensive midfielders of the last decade?
West Ham Will Have Serious Cash to Spend
When the Rice sale goes through, West Ham will have to move wisely in the transfer market and ensure that the cash is well spent. The 2022-23 campaign has been an arduous one for David Moyes, and there’s no doubt that his side has been underperforming massively. On top of that, some of the most recent signings simply haven’t worked out, and it will be a case of rebuilding again in the summer.
West Ham will have to be mindful of the dangers of being faced with such a vast transfer kitty. Tottenham Hotspur’s famous use of the Gareth Bale money has gone down as one of the most frivolous spending sprees in Premier League history, and many of the players purchased were flops.
Moyes will have to identify the key areas that need addressing in his squad and target specific and proven players to fill those roles. Rice will have a major impact on whichever club he ends up joining this summer. Indeed, his addition could have a great effect on that club’s title hopes in the season ahead. It will be a mad scramble for his signature, but the ideal fit appears to be United.