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June 18, 2021

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Manchester United can sign their new Roy Keane in transfer window

3 min read

You don’t captain West Ham to a sixth place finish in the Premier League and become a mainstay of the England midfield for a major tournament, all by the age of 22, unless you have a fairly special talent.

That is what Manchester United could be getting this summer, if they sign Declan Rice, with the midfielder among their targets — though not the most attainable of them, in truth.

If there was any doubt that West Ham would battle to keep their talisman this summer, then it’s worth revisiting some comments from their boss David Moyes about the former Chelsea youth product from earlier in the season.

Speaking in March about the transfer speculation that has surrounded Rice for a year or two now, Moyes said: “I don’t agree with the [West Ham] owners that Declan Rice is a £100m footballer. Far, far more than £100m. Far, far more.

“I look at the players who have joined some clubs from overseas and come in and nowhere near had the impact Declan Rice would have.

“I certainly wouldn’t put a price on it. You can decide which figure you want to put on it but I wouldn’t be sanctioning anything like that, that’s for sure.”

Maybe you can put some of Moyes’ comments down to hubris.

Because if Harry Kane is valued at around £150million, then £100million for Rice still seems a bit steep. The Hammers boss was understandably talking up his player and trying to put potential suitors like United off the scent for the summer transfer window.

A Premier League club is yet to sanction a transfer fee in excess of £100million, but you sense, even with the pandemic still playing its part in restricting club finances, that the day is coming soon.



Declan Rice of West Ham United celebrates

United got close when paying £89m for Paul Pogba in 2016 and they have a long-standing history of breaking the British transfer record for players — going all the way back to the signings of Bryan Robson (for £1.5m from West Brom in 1981) and Roy Keane (£3.75m from Nottingham Forest in 1993).

It is no exaggeration to suggest Rice could have a similar impact to Robson or Keane at United. He shares plenty of traits with them both, having become a central midfield captain at such a young age, not to mention his buccaneering and imposing defensive midfield style (although unlike Keane he defected from the Republic of Ireland — much to the chagrin of many on the Emerald Isle).

It’s widely accepted that United need an upgrade on Fred and Scott McTominay this summer, despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s loyalty to the pair.

Sir Alex Ferguson was ultra loyal to his pairing of Paul Ince and Robson until Keane, the young upstart who’d shone further down the league for Forest, came along. The Irishman imposed himself on United and never looked back.

Okay, Rice might not quite match Keane for aggression — he’s from the new school of ‘nice guy’ players — but he’s a leader and a serious talent who will surely play a big role for Gareth Southgate’s England at the upcoming Euros. You suspect he could get close to Keane’s trophy haul in the next decade, providing he’s playing for a club that can compete for titles.

United and Rice could do a lot worse than each other. It remains to be seen whether a deal, £100million or not, can be achieved this summer.

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