Amongst the most highly-rated young players in the Premier League at present, the division’s leading sides are reportedly monitoring West Ham’s Declan Rice ahead of a potential summer move.
The midfielder has made a big impression in a struggling Hammers’ side since coming through the academy ranks, establishing himself as a senior England international following a series of mature displays.
West Ham face a fight to survive ahead of the Premier League’s run-in and Rice may decide a new challenge is needed regardless of the outcome, but which sides are leading the race for the 21-year-old?
According to Pay per head site https://www.realbookies.com/ here are the five favourites to sign Declan Rice this summer:
Tottenham – 12/1
Tottenham’s rivalry with West Ham has not stopped the north London side poaching past talents from the East End of the capital, the likes of Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick amongst the notable names to have left the Hammers for Spurs in previous years.
Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Tottenham is yet to have had the desired impact and the ‘Special One’ is likely to demand investment this summer, despite the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tanguy Ndombele’s future also remains uncertain following a disappointing season for the club-record signing and whilst different in style, Rice could prove a high-quality replacement for the France international in midfield.
Rice appears a player whose attributes would appeal to the Mourinho, a fine reader of the game and comfortable playing either in midfield or at centre-back. West Ham will demand a significant fee for the youngster, however, a valuation which could leave Spurs trailing behind the competition.
Arsenal – 12/1
Another side ranked as outsiders to prise Rice away from the London Stadium, Mikel Arteta is believed to be keen to reinforce his side with a leading defensive midfield player during the summer window.
The Gunners are believed to be interested in Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey but have also been tentatively linked with a move for Rice, a player whose authoritative presence would bolster an Arsenal side often accused of being spineless in recent seasons.
The England international’s lofty valuation appears to make this move unfeasible in the current climate, however, whilst Rice would also likely seek European football should he depart West Ham this summer, a scenario far from certain for Arsenal at present.
Manchester City – 8/1
Manchester City were strongly linked with a move for Rice last year, as the club considered a range of long-term replacements for Fernandinho as the Brazilian enters the latter stages of his career.
Pep Guardiola’s search saw the club splash a record fee to sign Rodri from Atletico Madrid, so a move for the West Ham midfielder would come as somewhat of a surprise this summer.
Many feel, however, that Rice’s long-term position could come at centre-back, a position which City have identified as an area to strengthen following their defensive struggles during the current campaign.
Rice’s flexibility and composure in possession could appeal to Guardiola whose system thrives on being able to play out from the back, the Spaniard having previously moved midfielders Javier Mascherano and Fernandinho into central defensive roles.
Manchester United – 4/1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown a clear desire to target emerging British talent since taking the reigns at Manchester United, the likes of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James heading to Old Trafford last summer.
Rice ticks plenty of boxes when it comes to an ideal signing for United ahead of next season, the club lacking specialist options in defensive midfield with the ageing Nemanja Matic having anchored the side for much of the current campaign.
Rice would bring added energy and dynamism to a side brimming with potential, though a move for the West Ham star looks down the Red Devils’ list of priorities given the promising development shown by both Fred and Scott McTominay.
Chelsea – 4/6
Chelsea have reportedly made Rice a priority signing this summer as the club’s ambitious summer of spending continues, Frank Lampard believed to have placed the West Ham star high on his transfer wish-list.
Rice began his career in the academy system at Chelsea before being released as a teenager, and is said to be keen on a return to Stamford Bridge where he would join an exciting young side that includes close friend Mason Mount.
Reports have suggested that Lampard views Rice as a player who can transform his side’s defensive issues, earmarking a place in the centre of a back three should the 21-year-old head across the capital this summer.
The Blues are the odds-on favourites to secure the England star as they continue to build a side capable of challenging for the title next season, Rice tipped strongly to join Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner as a Chelsea player next season.