Declan Rice fits Solskjaer’s blueprint but he isn’t the £80m answer to Man Utd’s midfield problem

Declan Rice jogging during West Ham's draw against Aston Villa
The midfielder has been linked with a big-money transfer to Old Trafford from West Ham (Picture: Getty)

It appears that with each passing week there’s a footballer auditioning for a job to develop into a part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future all-star forged at Manchester United.

Last weekend, all eyes had been on Leicester City’s schemer James Maddison, who in accordance to reviews is United’s precedence goal subsequent summer season as they search to sprinkle some inventive stardust over a reasonably purposeful midfield.

This Sunday, it’s the flip of West Ham’s water-carrier to enter the highlight amid hypothesis that Solskjaer has politely requested Ed Woodward to add his identify to United’s lengthy checklist of switch targets – this regardless of him being valued by the Hammers at between £80-90m.

Rice definitely ticks most of the packing containers that Solskjaer and United are on the lookout for in gamers at the second. He’s 20 years previous, he’s English and he’s accrued quantity of expertise up to now, that includes slightly below 70 instances for the Hammers.



That being mentioned, is he what United actually need? And maybe extra pertinently, is he price the sum of money that West Ham are apparently demanding for him?

Would he enhance Manchester United’s midfield?

Although the signings of Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire had been welcomed by Manchester United followers, the greatest bone of rivalry over the membership’s summer season enterprise was the failure to add a central midfielder to the squad.

United have misplaced much more technical and influential gamers in the previous than both Marouane Fellaini or Ander Herrera but permitting each to go away in the house of six months with out changing both represents reasonably questionable decision-making.

Of United’s current choices in central midfield there’s Paul Pogba, , Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic, Fred and at a push, Jesse Lingard. With all due respect, it isn’t the most formidable assortment of midfielders that United have ever had.

Without Paul Pogba, Manchester United’s midfield choices are restricted (Picture: Getty)

Pogba’s absence by means of damage in opposition to Leicester emphasised United’s paucity of choices in midfield with McTominay partnered by Matic and Pereira in a distinctly workmanlike midfield trio, with the unconvincing determine of Fred additionally making a second-half look.

It can be tough to argue that signing a midfielder who has performed in 5 of England’s final six video games and began 39 of West Ham’s earlier 43 Premier League matches would do something apart from strengthen what is certainly a problem place for United at this second in time.



Is he too comparable to current choices?

Rice spent a bit of his youth profession break up between Chelsea and West Ham enjoying as a central defender but it’s as a defensive-minded No.6 that he has loved his breakthrough, shielding the again 4 in an authoritative method that belies his years.

Last season, Rice made 150 tackles and interceptions mixed in the Premier League – greater than some other West Ham participant – whereas solely Felipe Anderson accomplished extra passes. Those statistics spotlight Rice’s capability to not solely break up play but additionally assist dictate it. The query is, although, is that what United actually need?

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay battles with Southampton defender Kevin Danso for possession
Scott McTominay performs an analogous function in Manchester United’s midfield to Declan Rice at West Ham (Picture: Getty)

‘Would I say yes now at £80m or £90m? I’m not feeling that personally at this second in time. But am I seeing a extremely good participant who might doubtlessly become one thing implausible for the subsequent 10 years? Yes, I actually do assume that,’ mentioned Gary Neville on Monday Night Football.

‘But would I go and spend that much money on a player [on potential]? Do Manchester United need another player [like that]? They’ve already bought Nemanja Matic, they’ve already bought Scott McTominay, who’re doing an analogous function to what I see Rice doing.’

Neville makes a sound level. Although United are wanting central midfielders, they aren’t essentially wanting defensive midfielders. On common, McTominay makes an attempt extra passes and fewer tackles than Rice does, but that’s in all probability as a result of he performs in a facet that averages Four per cent extra possession per sport.


In phrases of what they provide offensively, Rice and McTominay are nearly the similar. McTominay has averaged 1.2 photographs per sport to Rice’s 0.8, made 0.6 key passes to 0.Four and tried 1.6 dribbles to 1.8.

It is debatable whether or not there can be too many events by which United would want each in the similar beginning XI.

Could the cash be higher spent elsewhere?

Manchester United flirted with the thought of signing an attacking midfielder throughout the summer season with Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes strongly linked with a transfer and each Christian Eriksen and Maddison talked about as Premier League based mostly options.

Ultimately, the membership determined that fixing their defence was the prime precedence and following on from the signings of Maguire and Wan-Bissaka, they’ve now moved to tie each David De Gea and Victor Lindelof to long-term contracts.

Next up on Woodward’s switch to-do checklist, although, might be signing a top-class creator for Solskjaer’s midfield as United, significantly when Pogba is absent, are sorely missing in that regard. They rank sixth for possibilities created this season, beneath 20th positioned Watford.

James Maddison attempts to dribble past Andreas Pereira during Leicester City's loss to Manchester United
James Maddison can be a extra worthwhile buy for Manchester United than Declan Rice (Picture: Getty)

United’s purpose return of eight in 5 video games additionally ranks sixth in the Premier League charts and 1 / 4 of these have come through the penalty spot. More concerningly, half of them got here in a single sport – the 4-Zero thrashing of Chelsea 5 weeks in the past.

Look by means of United’s open play objectives this season and plenty of have been the results of particular person inspiration reasonably than the finish results of a free-flowing group transfer. All three of James’ objectives, as an illustration, have nearly come from nothing.


The patterns of attacking play prevalent in Manchester City’s play, for instance, is solely not there at United and a key issue behind that’s Solskjaer doesn’t possess a Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva or Bernardo Silva sort participant in his squad.

Signing a participant of that ilk, reasonably than one other defensive shuttler like Rice, is a much more urgent want for United over the subsequent couple of switch home windows.



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