In pictures: Young Boys v Manchester United
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Declan Rice continues to show why he offers more to Manchester United than they currently have in central midfield, with another impressive performance on Sunday. The 22-year-old was the subject of numerous reports linking him with a move to Old Trafford in the summer, but any move for the player failed to materialise after the Hammers slapped a £100million price tag on him.
United’s free flowing spending on the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, also meant they were more reluctant to shell out such a hefty fee.
Both teams enjoyed contrasting fortunes in midweek with Rice on the scoresheet for West Ham in the 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb, but United were beaten 2-1 by Swiss side Young Boys.
Solskjaer made three changes to the side that lost in the Champions League with Scott McTominay, Mason Greenwood and Varane returning to the line-up, while the Hammers were without the suspended Michail Antonio.
Said Benrahma opened the scoring with a deflected effort which left David de Gea with no chance, before Ronaldo equalised, and then Jesse Lingard won the game for United late on.
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When asked about the changes to his side for Sunday’s fixture, Solskjaer explained his thinking behind the decision.
“Scott and Fred are back in they’re a partnership we have, want to have their energy today.
“Jadon started the Tuesday game we found the decision to leave him here and give him the chance to come on should we need to,” Solskjaer said.
Solskjaer discussed how his side require energy, but United simply need more than that, and Rice has already proved he has what it takes to play at an elite level.
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The 22-year-old could be the defensive midfielder that United crave, and Rice would offer more of a creative spark than the likes of Fred and Nemanja Matic.
With Fred, the tempo can be flat at times, while at 33, Matic certainly isn’t getting any younger and won’t be able to complete at this level for much longer.
Rice has proved he has the ability to win the ball back, drive forward, and either pick out a key pass or go it alone – as he did so brilliantly with his goal on Thursday against the Croatian champions.
The England midfielder also possesses the defensive qualities required to succeed at the top, and the 22-year-old could also offer cover at centre-back if necessary, which United certainly wouldn’t say no to.
Reports suggest the player will be United’s main priority next summer and Rice can be what United want, and ultimately, need.
It is clear that the England midfielder has already shown he has bags of potential, and that ability could be unleashed should he be presented with the opportunity to display that at Old Trafford.
The result means Solskjaer’s side are now second in the table behind Liverpool on goal difference, with 13 points from their first five games.
United will face Moyes’ side again on Wednesday in the EFL Cup, before they host Dean Smith’s Aston Villa in the early kick-off on Saturday.
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