Manchester United had a quiet but effective summer transfer window. Three key players were signed, all have made their early mark.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s main aim was to clear some dead-wood from the squad. He’s done that effectively. Now, it’s about slowly strengthening the starting line-up, position-by-position, but only signing a player who fits the mould.
The Baby Faced Assassin’s mantra is clear. He’s trying to sign young, preferably British footballers to build his core team around.
An area in which United will likely target next is midfield, and pundit Noel Whelan reckons United will make their move for West Ham’s star 20-year-old, Declan Rice. What’s interesting is that Whelan says the Old Trafford outfit could make their move as early as January…
“West Ham have got a really special player on their hands,” Whelan told Football Insider. “They will struggled to hold on to him, because the big clubs will be hot on his trail.
“I think Declan Rice could be the next player who goes for a Premier League record fee. We have just seen Harry Maguire go for £80million and I wouldn’t be surprised if Rice goes for more than that, above £90million, even.
“He’s young, English, hugely talented and is such a long way from his peak. You look at a team like Man United, who need a midfield anchorman and you can see it happening.
“They don’t mind paying over the odds for a player, as we saw in the summer. I could see them looking to get Rice in January.”
As always, the mid-season window is a notoriously tough time to buy players. Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra aside, it’s a market in which the Red Devils haven’t had much luck.
However, Rice is a proper player who’d fit the United way perfectly. The Englishman plays with a maturity beyond his years and is often West Ham’s standout performer in matches.
The fact that he’s versatile is another big plus. Rice could either play at the heart of the defence alongside Harry Maguire, or move slightly further afield and become that defensive-midfielder that protects the backline.
As Whelan says, the fee would be similar to what United paid to sign Slabhead, if not higher. West Ham are in a position where they don’t have to sell so they would demand an arm and a leg, perhaps even more given they won’t want to lose one of their top performers mid-season. I can see this happening, but not in January, this is more likely a deal that could be on the cards next summer.