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Report: Declan Rice Scouted by Manchester United amid Rumours of Summer Transfer

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 13, 2020

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30: Declan Rice of West Ham United during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on November 30, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United have reportedly scouted West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice amid rumours they will try to sign the 20-year-old in the summer transfer window.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sent his "personal scout" Simon Wells to watch the Englishman in action during Friday's Premier League defeat to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, according to the Daily Mail's Craig Hope.

Wells is Solskjaer's "most trusted scout" and reports directly to the Manchester United boss, while Rice has emerged as one of the club's top summer targets to strengthen midfield, per the report.

Rice will have caught the eye during Friday's match. The 20-year-old thought he had scored a late equaliser for the Hammers only to see his effort ruled out by VAR.

The midfielder's frustration at the decision was evident after the final whistle (UK video only):

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

"Well, we're fuming really. All the lads in there are livid!" 😡 Declan Rice was NOT happy after VAR ruled out Robert Snodgrass' injury time goal for a handball against him in the build-up. Oli McBurnie scores from David Martin error for winner: https://t.co/OPvtcCE2ai #SHUWHU https://t.co/3fGGjK2Qw8

Rice began his career at Chelsea but moved to West Ham in 2014 and has progressed through the youth ranks into the first team. He has become a key figure for the Hammers and signed a long-term contract with the club in December 2018 that runs until 2024.

The midfielder's performances saw him earn a first England promotion in March 2019 after switching allegiance from the Republic of Ireland. He made his Three Lions debut in a 5-0 UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying win over the Czech Republic.

This is not the first time Rice has been linked with a move to Manchester United. Speculation was rife in summer 2019 that the Red Devils were keen on a move, and the midfielder spoke about the reported interest, per FourFourTwo (via MailOnline):

"Don't get me wrong, I think I've got the ability to play for a club like that. But it's all about the timing, and I don't think the timing is right for me at all. I've still got so much to learn. I'm loving it at West Ham. The connection between me and the supporters is special. I've become one of the fans' favourites and the manager likes me. It's the best place for me to play my football."

Yet a proposed move to Manchester United drew criticism from some of the club's former players. Ex-captain Roy Keane has been openly critical of the midfielder:

Goal @goal

Roy Keane on Declan Rice: "Where does he need to improve, where do you want me to start? His positional play I don’t think is consistent enough, he doesn’t stay with runners, he’s sloppy in possession. I can go on.” 😬😬😬 https://t.co/YLLCACDRCr

Meanwhile, former Red Devil Gary Neville also expressed reservations about Rice moving to Old Trafford. Speaking on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football (h/t Metro), he said he was unsure if his former club should make a big-money move for the midfielder.

Yet midfield has been a problem area for Manchester United in 2019-20 and appears to be a priority for strengthening. The club could even delve into the transfer market in January and have been linked with a move for Sporting CP's Bruno Fernandes, per ESPN:

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

Man United and Sporting Lisbon have met to discuss the possibility of Bruno Fernandes moving to Old Trafford in January, sources have told ESPN. https://t.co/btzSG6BTy1

Solskjaer has appeared keen to bring in young British talent to build his squad and has already signed Harry Maguire and Daniel James. Rice is another player who fits that profile and appears to be of interest to the Manchester United boss.

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