England: Declan Rice and Ben Chilwell show skills in training
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Manchester United are believed to be eager to sign a new centre-back this summer, with West Ham’s Declan Rice a reported target. United could have the perfect secret weapon to tempt them into a deal.
United chief Ed Woodward faces a big summer transfer window, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer determined to improve the side.
The Norwegian boss is believed to want a new centre-back and a new centre-forward, though resources are still yet to be limited.
The Red Devils will apparently only look for a big-name signing in one of the two positions and will sign a less experienced and cheaper player in the other.
Rice is believed to be one of the players in United’s cross-hairs, having impressed at the London Stadium in recent years.
His form last season for the Hammers earned him interest from Chelsea in the 2020 transfer window, with reports suggesting he was valued at £73million.
The Blues ultimately opted against moving for the 21-year-old, but are still said to be interested.
However, if United are also in the mix, the Blues could miss out due to an unwanted Red Devils star.
Jesse Lingard has looked like a completely new player since joining the Hammers on loan until the rest of the season, having bagged three times in his first four appearances for the club.
The Hammers don’t have the option to sign him permanently, though if he carries on like this it seems inevitable that they’ll at least attempt to sign him permanently.
The playmaker has contributed perfectly to David Moyes’ side, fitting in the attack alongside the likes of Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini and Said Benrahma.
Lingard himself seems to be enjoying his football as much as ever since the loan move, and his ‘team band’ celebration after netting against Tottenham proved he has integrated within the dressing room.
If he is to potentially be targeted this summer, it could work out well for all parties involved.
Lingard joining West Ham on a permanent basis would be the perfect move for the 28-year-old and give him the chance to breathe life into his career again.
And it could also pave the way for Rice to head to Old Trafford and test himself on a top European stage.
Woodward and co will be desperate to reduce the outlay for Rice if they were to make a move, and it would be ideal for him to use Lingard as a makeweight.
Peter Crouch recently discussed the potential of a swap deal between the two clubs, and admitted Lingard needs to get away from Old Trafford.
And he has a point, as Lingard’s chances of game time at United seem limited considering their attacking talent, especially if they end up strengthening in the summer.
Crouch said in his Daily Mail column in response to a fan question about the potential swap: “Your suggestion makes sense for United.
“Lingard needs to get away as his time at Old Trafford is up, while Rice is the kind of player United need to add.
“Would West Ham do that deal? I’m not so sure. We’ll see what happens.”
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