Man Utd’s U-turn on Declan Rice transfer ahead of West Ham clash

Declan Rice: Manchester United and Chelsea target profiled

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There once was a time when Manchester United were planning to go after Declan Rice with everything they’ve got. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a particularly big admirer of the midfielder, who has been a regular in the West Ham line up for several years now. However, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with the Hammers, it appears the England international is no longer a priority target for the Red Devils.

Manchester United will go up against Rice when they lock horns with West Ham on Saturday.

And it will offer the England international a chance to show exactly what he’s all about, having long been linked with a move to Old Trafford.

Had Solskjaer not been sacked, it’s possible Rice would actually be lining up in a United shirt – rather than a West Ham one.

The Norwegian, after signing Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, thought Rice would be the perfect man to run the club’s midfield for the next decade.

Solskjaer thought he’d be able to pursue the former Chelsea academy star in the summer of 2022, when United’s transfer budget would be free for use.

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John Murtough was another big admirer of Rice, while United players such as Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard (at the time) had talked with the West Ham star about a potential move.

But, fast-forward to now, and Rice is no longer the club’s priority transfer target. Far from it, in fact.

While the club still admire the 23-year-old, they’ve had other priorities ever since Erik ten Hag was named as Solskjaer’s permanent successor back in the summer.

United, at the start of the transfer window, knew they needed a world-class defensive-midfielder.

But rather than focus on Rice like his predecessor, Ten Hag identified several other targets instead – perhaps knowing West Ham wouldn’t let their prized asset go no matter the price.

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United eyed Frenkie de Jong, of Barcelona, having been emboldened by Ten Hag’s positive relationship with his former Ajax star.

Yet they ended up missing out, with the Netherlands international instead choosing to take a pay cut to ensure he could stay at the Nou Camp.

After missing out on De Jong, United then probed a deal for Juventus’ Adrien Rabiot.

However, they ultimately believed the France international’s wage demands were far too high – which forced them into walking away from a deal before switching focus.

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Having missed out on Rabiot, United were able to strike gold by bringing in Casemiro from Real Madrid for a huge £70million.

And with Casemiro now going from strength to strength, and Scott McTominay improving since Ten Hag’s appointment, Rice no longer seems to be a player in their sights.

Speaking earlier this month, meanwhile, Paul Parker urged Rice to move to United if the opportunity arrives.

“I would say now for Declan Rice that Manchester United could be an even better move for him with the way [Erik] ten Hag and his side are doing at the moment,” he said.

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But United now have other players on their radar.

They want a new right-back to provide competition for Diogo Dalot, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka expected to leave in January.

And United know they’ll need a new striker next summer, regardless of whether or not Ronaldo extends his stay by a further year.

United beat West Ham 1-0 in the same fixture last term, with Rashford netting the only goal of the game back in January. 

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