All eyes will be on England midfielder Declan Rice when Manchester United travel to the London Stadium for their Premier League clash with The Hammers on Sunday afternoon.
Rice has long been linked with a move to Manchester United as the Red Devils are in desperate need of a top-class defensive midfielder to establish themselves as real title contenders.
The club’s technical director Darren Fletcher and director of football John Murtagh have identified Rice as the one to take Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to the next level despite recently signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho.
Additionally, Rice is on the hunt for trophies and Champions League football – making United a favourable destination. The England midfielder is also said to be concerned about West Ham’s lack of permanent signings this summer.
Therefore, Sunday’s Premier League fixture provides the perfect opportunity for Rice to showcase his skillset and prove his worth to the Manchester United manager.
All eyes will be on England midfielder Declan Rice when Manchester United travel to the London Stadium for their Premier League clash with The Hammers on Sunday afternoon
Fred and Scott McTominay played together in a midfield double pivot last season but received criticism for their performances. The pair failed to offload the ball quickly, win possession in the press and provide regular runs forward to create space for Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.
Although McTominay impressed as a simple passing pivot and Fred managed to find the back of the net against Leeds this season…Manchester United need to change their structure to mount a proper title challenge.
Rice has long been linked with a move to Manchester United and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (above) will be assessing his performance during their clash
Rice could get the best out of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba if he joined Manchester United
Therefore, it is likely that Solskjaer will move towards a 4-3-3 formation to get the best out of Pogba and Fernandes.
Pogba received heaps of praise at Euro 2020 despite France’s disappointing campaign. However, his success in the attacking third can be mainly credited to N’Golo Kante. The Chelsea midfielder was responsible for holding down the fort to allow Pogba to advance into those dangerous areas.
Rice could provide Pogba with the same opportunities at United. If he is able to operate for the Red Devils as he does for England – stepping back to allow Mason Mount and Kalvin Phillips to push forward and support the attack – he could become invaluable to Solskjaer’s side.
Pogba received heaps of praise at Euro 2020 despite France’s disappointing campaign
However, his success can be credited to N’Golo Kante. The Chelsea midfielder was responsible for holding down the fort to allow Pogba to advance into those dangerous areas
Additionally, with Varane joining the squad to partner Harry Maguire, Rice would be able to receive the ball from the centre-backs before distributing it to his teammates and initiating United’s attack.
Varane would also provide defensive cover in behind Rice as he has the ability to read the game well. His athletic ability would also allow him to win the ball with ease. Such qualities will be beneficial for United given Maguire is the aggressor in the defence.
The new structure would also allow United’s backline to operate on a higher line when in possession of the ball. As a result, the Red Devils will lose less territory when they turn over the ball.
However, this formation will only work if Manchester United attain a suitable defensive midfielder as neither Fred nor McTominay can operate in the role on a long-term basis.
Additionally, with Raphael Varane joining the squad to partner Harry Maguire, Rice would be able to receive the ball from the centre-backs before distributing it to his teammates
As it stands, the only suitable defensive midfield option is Nemanja Matic (middle). But, the Serbian international coming into his twilight years – making an alternative option a priority
As it stands, the only worthwhile option is Nemanja Matic. However, the Serbian international coming into his twilight years – making an alternative option a priority.
Rice would be the perfect option given he is an England international regular and a Premier League proven at just 22 years old.
West Ham manager David Moyes even believes Rice would be the ideal option for United – claiming Solskjaer’s side would become favourites for the Premier League title if they were able to secure his services.
He previously said on TalkSPORT: ‘If he goes to Manchester United, yes [they will become Premier League title favourite]. I think that would be the last piece of the jigsaw.
‘They’ve got another centre-back in Raphael Varane to play alongside Harry Maguire and they’ve brought Sancho in.
Even West Ham manager believes Rice will be the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ for United
Rice will be auditioning for United on Sunday, with the club targeting other players as well
‘If they get Declan Rice, that would free up Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in their midfield.
‘If he joins Man City, they’ve already won the league so he would make them equally as good. With Chelsea? Well…I don’t think they particularly need him!’.
However, Rice will still need to impress on Sunday as United could look to buy a similar player for half the price given West Ham are demanding at least £100m for his services.
The Red Devils could look to AC Milan’s Ismael Bennacer – even though he lacks Premier League experience. Or they could opt for Ruben Neves from Wolves.