West Ham United are going to make it increasingly difficult for Manchester United to sign holding midfielder Declan Rice this summer, but the Red Devils have two backup plans.
The England man is widely reported to be the Reds’ top target for the holding midfield position as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to break up the Scott McTominay and Fred double pivot and go with one specialist DM.
However, the Hammers have qualified for the Europa League and do not want to lose Rice. They will demand upwards of £80 million for the player, with David Moyes having mentioned £100 million, which United will be unable to pay having just signed Jadon Sancho for £73 million.
To make matters worse, The Express are claiming that the London club are going to use funds freed up from the sale of Felipe Anderson to Lazio to offer the 22-year-old a bumper new contract that will keep him at the London Stadium longer and safeguard his value.
United, though, have something West Ham want as well, in the form of Jesse Lingard, who transformed the Hammers in the second part of last season and who United value at £30 million, a figure that the Londoners have said is beyond their means.
This could pave the way for a Lingard plus cash deal.
The balance of £50 – £70 million based on the two clubs’ valuations would, however, still be a big chunk for United to find, so there is a Plan C.
According to The Daily Star, the Red Devils could be lining up an approach for Wolves’ Ruben Neves, whose asking price as per that outlet is around £60 million, although other reports have suggested it might be as low as £35 million.
‘And the cherry on top of the cake for United’s bean counters is that Neves would cost a snip of what West Ham are demanding for Rice,’ The Daily Star notes.
‘However, the Red Devils are not the only club looking at the Portuguese midfielder, with Arsenal technical director Edu reportedly in contact with Neves’ agent, Jorge Mendes.’
Neves is a slightly different style of defensive midfielder to Rice, being less inclined to sit. However, he is also able to score goals and has a greater passing range than the England man.
Another option being pursued is Rennes’ 18-year-old prodigy Eduardo Camavinga, who can also play the holding role but is arguably more naturally suited to a box-to-box or more attacking role.
Camavinga’s inexperience in the Premier League would also make him more of a gamble than either Rice or Neves, but on the other hand, he is more likely to represent the best value for money of the three.