Manchester United are ready to break their transfer record to land Declan Rice and make him the marquee signing of the first summer under new boss Erik ten Hag, 90min understands.
Rice has emerged as one of the best young midfielders in Europe and is the heartbeat of a West Ham United side that has challenged for a top four finish this season.
90min understands that Rice and his representatives have made it clear to West Ham that they feel this year is the right time for him to move on and further his career.
West Ham had opened conversations about a new deal for the England international last year, though the club know that they would be unable to match the wages on offer from other interested parties. It’s expected that Rice would be able to pocket at least £250,000-a-week elsewhere – well outside of the Hammers’ wage structure.
David Moyes suggested last week that it would take £150m to land Rice, but sources close to the situation have confirmed that a figure closer to £120m would see Hammers chief David Sullivan sanction a move for his prized asset.
United, however, do not have a clear run at Rice. Neighbours Manchester City and league rivals Chelsea are very much in the mix. Liverpool had previously expressed an interest in Rice last year, but the overall cost of the deal looks to have put them off.
City have few weaknesses or needs in their squad, but they are looking for a new midfielder with veteran Fernandinho, who turns 37 this summer, ready to hang up his boots. German star Ilkay Gundogan also has just over 12 months left on his current deal – so there could very well be room for Rice next to Rodri in City’s midfield if they do make a concerted move for his signature.
Pep Guardiola has already given his thoughts to the club’s hierarchy, and is a confirmed fan of the England star.
Chelsea, the club Rice and his family support and who released him as a youngster, have long been linked but it remains to be seen if they will step up their interest. The Blues are in the middle of a change of ownership and while in the market for a midfielder, have a long-standing interest in Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni.
United, though, are ready to go toe-to-toe with their rivals for Rice. They have already been doing their homework on him and have been told that a move to Old Trafford is something Rice would consider.
Ten Hag, who is expected to become the club’s new manager after United decided on him ahead of Mauricio Pochettino, indicated during his interview the areas of the squad that he would prioritise. It’s believed midfield was the area he identified that needed the most work, though a major overhaul of the squad may be required to fit his intended style of play.
Wolves star Ruben Neves is also a player United have been keen on for a number of years, and their interest in him remains strong – especially with the player ready to move on this summer.
At least one new forward is also on United’s radar and that could see them returning to Ajax for Brazilian star Antony – who they have been watching closely in recent months. Benfica’s Darwin Nunez is also a player they have been hugely impressed with.
Sources have also confirmed to 90min that that United are being kept informed of Harry Kane’s situation at Tottenham, and should he be made available they may consider action.
Defence is an area of concern for Ten Hag too, and he has been tipped to take current Ajax defender Jurrien Timber with him to Old Trafford . Villarreal’s Pau Torres is another player the club would love to add – but it could depend on who they can move on with the likes of Phil Jones and Eric Bailly earning high wages and barely in first team contention.
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