Manchester City are reportedly set to rival local rivals Manchester United for the signing of West Ham United and England midfielder Declan Rice.
According to a report from The Sun, Manchester City have joined neighbours Manchester United in the race to sign Declan Rice from West Ham United in the summer next year.
The 22-year-old Rice has grown into one of the best in his position in the Premier League over the past couple of years. A former Chelsea youth academy trainee, he completed his footballing education with West Ham and has grown into a top player for the Hammers and had a key role to play in their top-six finish in the league last year.
Rice was also an ever-present in the side as England went all the way to the finals of the UEFA Euro 2020 earlier this year. His rise for club and country has put him on the radars of several clubs across England. Chelsea had been heaviiy linked with the 22-year-old this summer, but the arrival of Saul Niguez, on loan with an option to make the move permanent, means they may not move for the Englishman.
This has left the two Manchester clubs to battle it out for the signing of Rice from West Ham. A new defensive midfielder would potentially be the final piece of the puzzle for Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has assembled a title-winning squad but lacks a top-quality No. 6, with Fred being inconsistent and Nemanja Matic not getting any younger.
The Red Devils, to that end, have identified Rice as the top transfer target, even though West Ham United have slapped a price tag of £100 million. However, neighbours Manchester City’s entry into the picture could complicate matters for the 20-time English champions in pursuit of Rice.
Pep Guardiola’s reigning English champions are on the lookout for a replacement for long-serving holding midfielder and club captain Fernandinho. In Rodri, the Cityzens do have a readymade heir to take over but are intent on adding Rice to the roster as well. The transfer see would not be a problem at all for Manchester City, as they believe that the 22-year-old would be a quality long-term investment.
Rice, for his part, is said to be happy at West Ham United, despite there being claims of the player being frustrated. However, the report claims that there could come a time when the 22-year-old outgrows the ambitions of the east London giants and push for a move. With still three years left on his deal though, West Ham would have an upper hand in any potential negotiations.
A top performer, Rice is able to play as a centre-back with this versatility likely to add more value to the team he decides to play for. As to where his future lies, both Manchester United and Manchester City remain keen.