Liverpool legend Graeme Souness has urged Manchester City to lure Declan Rice from West Ham United, who is also a transfer target for Manchester United and Chelsea.
The England international has attracted strong interest from the finest Premier League sides in recent seasons, thanks to his consistent top performances at West Ham United.
Man United showed interest in the 22-year-old last two seasons but the Hammers cooled United’s interest after placing a mammoth price tag on the player’s head.
Chelsea showed interest in the defensive midfielder last summer but failed in their pursuit of the tireless defender.
Declan Rice has maintained his fine form this season, helping David Moyes push for a place in the Champions League next season as they currently occupy the 5th position with 34 points from 20 league games.
Fernandinho’s contract at City is due to expire in the summer and Souness thinks Manchester City lure Rice to Etihad as a suitable replacement for the Brazilian.
Liverpool haven’t yet shown any strong interest in the Englishman and while Souness obviously doesn’t think his former club would, he expects at the end of the season a bidding war for Rice’s signature from Chelsea, United and City.
‘At first, I feared he might become one of those ‘steady Eddies’ who play it safe and square all the time and say they ‘recycle possession’ rather than have an impact on matches for their teams,’ Souness told the Sunday Times of Rice.
‘Now I reckon Rice is going to be an in-demand footballer with the bigger clubs. Whether it’s Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City. I don’t think Liverpool will be in the chase for him, but the other three will.”
Graeme Souness expects West Ham United to command over £100million from Rice’s services, the price Aston Villa received from City for Jack Grealish.
“Jack Grealish’s transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City for £100 million means that’s where the bidding is likely to start for Rice, who’s four years younger at 22,” Souness added. “City already have the strongest group of players in the history of English football, but still collect the best players they can.
“Yes, they have Rodri, but Fernandinho’s 36 and in the final six months of his contract, so Rice is an obvious replacement because they have the finances and are buying when they are on top.
“City, Chelsea and United will all pay a premium for Rice. The only argument you can offer if you’re buying is that he’s not a striker and that’s where the big money generally goes. It might take Rice to another level.”
There were suggestions that Man United were planning on signing a defensive midfielder last summer but ended their interest after Cristiano Ronaldo became available in the transfer market.
United are set to back Ralf Rangnick in the ongoing winter transfer market but it’s obvious West Ham are not going to let Declan Rice leave halfway through the season.