Declan Rice: Manchester United hoping to steal march on Chelsea and Manchester City in summer transfer race

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Declan Rice is wanted by Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City this summer  (Getty Images)
Declan Rice is wanted by Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City this summer (Getty Images)

Manchester United know this summer could be their best chance to move for Declan Rice, with their rivals for the West Ham midfielder prioritising other positions.

Chelsea and Manchester City are also huge admirers of the England international, but Thomas Tuchel needs to sign two top-class centre-backs to replace departing pair Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, while Erling Haaland is on his way to the Etihad Stadium.

United have a long-term interest in Rice, but West Ham’s valuation of £150million has already got them looking at alternatives. The Old Trafford club are exploring a move for Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips, who would be available for around £50m, and Jude Bellingham remains a dream target.

New manager Erik ten Hag would have to sign off on the pursuit of Rice, who United’s transfer committee have already run the rule over.

The departure of Paul Pogba means a world-class midfielder is a must this summer and Ten Hag would ideally like to bring in two new players in that position.

With Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic among those also poised to leave, United’s wage bill is set to come down dramatically. That will give the club more room for manoeuvre in the market, even though they will almost certainly be without Champions League football next season.

West Ham remain adamant Rice is not for sale and have informed the player they will reject any bids this summer. The 23-year-old is believed to have turned down three contract offers, with leading clubs in the Premier League expecting him to move on in the near future.

But West Ham manager David Moyes is unmoved in his belief that he can keep hold of the player.

“We’ve got three-and-a-half years so it isn’t the biggest priority,” he said. “Maybe he just wants more money. People do turn down contracts. It is not unusual for players at clubs to turn down contracts. Maybe it is a negotiation tactic.”

City need to replace Fernandinho this summer. While they can land Haaland by triggering his release clause for a cut-price £63m, the personal terms involved will make that an enormous deal financially, so it is possible that a further £150m on Rice would be deemed too much in the summer window.

With Conor Gallagher set to return from loan at Crystal Palace, Chelsea are deliberating over whether they need to further invest in midfield. The England international will be given the chance to compete for a regular first team place next season, alongside N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.

But Rice remains on their radar and should one of those three move on in the summer, it could see them step up their interest in the West Ham star.

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