Exclusive – Manchester United lead a group of top Premier League clubs showing interest in West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice ahead of the summer transfer window, but the Hammers will wait until the end of the season to make a decision on his future.
Rice is one of the best and most important players in a much improved West Ham side this season and is expected to be a starter for England at the delayed Euro 2020 finals tournament.
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90min understands that Manchester United have rekindled their interest in Rice in recent months, believing he can fill a hole in defensive midfield and also fill in at centre-back if needed.
The Old Trafford club are hugely impressed by Rice’s significant progression and development this season, although they are not the only side keeping an eye on the 22-year-old as Liverpool, Manchester City and boyhood team Chelsea are also watching him closely.
United and West Ham have already been in talks for some time over the future of Jesse Lingard, whose loan deal at the London Stadium does not include a pre-arranged option to buy. Lingard could potentially be offered in part-exchange for Rice, while the names of Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones have also come up in conversation between the two clubs.
Chelsea were knocked back over Rice last summer as West Ham were unprepared to sell at any price at that time. The east London club were later thought to want up to £90m for him, although 90min revealed in January there was a chance his valuation could drop to £50m amid the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on West Ham’s finances and the need for a cash boost.
However, things have developed since then. In January, West Ham were keeping pace with the top clubs and there was glimmering hope of qualifying for some form of European football next season. But now with only a few weeks of the season remaining they are still well in the mix and are even within touching distance of the top four and a possible Champions League place.
A judgement on whether they are prepared to sell Rice this summer will hinge on where the Hammers finish, as they don’t want to allow their big names to leave if they are playing at Europe’s top table and have tentatively even contacted Rice over a new contract.
The player’s father serves as his adviser and is in constant contact with West Ham over his son’s future, which as already mentioned could actually include a new deal in the capital depending on how the remainder of the 2020/21 campaign pans out.
Rice is currently awaiting test results on a knee injury. The early signs are that he'll be absent for around four weeks, though there are fears the problem could potentially put his Euro 2020 participation at risk.