Man Utd work on perfect Declan Rice welcome gift as Arsenal pursuit hits trouble

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Manchester United have reportedly thrown their hat into the ring for Declan Rice ahead of the summer transfer window. And although they will face competition from the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, links to Mason Mount could prove the Red Devils’ trump card if they see the deal through.

Mount and Rice have a well-known friendship, having spent eight years together in Chelsea’s academy. The latter joined West Ham in 2014, where he subsequently made his senior breakthrough, and the pair have never played together at senior level.

The possibility of forging a midfield partnership with his childhood friend at a Champions League side would surely appeal to Rice, who is expected to leave the Hammers this summer, providing their lofty asking price is met.

Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd are all reported to be interested in Rice, while Mount could line up for any of the three clubs next campaign amid speculation around his own club future.

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But crucially for United, The Athletic claim that Mount’s preference is to ditch Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford. Reports indicate that a £55million offer is being prepared for the 24-year-old, who is approaching the final year of his Chelsea contract.

Winning the race for Mount could have the knock-on effect of providing a major boost in the hunt for Rice, as a prospective club partnership with his good friend may end up swaying the West Ham captain’s decision.

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And just as the stars appear to be aligning for the Red Devils, Erik ten Hag and co have been given fresh encouragement by Arsenal’s pursuit of the midfielder hitting trouble. According to The Daily Mail, the Gunners’ interest in Rice is the ‘most advanced’ of any other club, but they have already encountered a snag over the asking price.

Arsenal are reportedly keen to seal the deal at £90m, but West Ham are thought to want in excess of £100m. It remains to be seen whether Mikel Arteta feels strongly enough about the player to smash the club’s transfer record.

While Rice could become one of the most expensive players in Premier League history this summer, Ten Hag has reinforced the importance of sticking to a solid transfer strategy.

“You have to do the right things and you can have money but you have to do it and spend it in a smart way and also you need a strategy behind it, because, otherwise, the money doesn’t work,” the Dutchman told reporters. “When there is no strategy behind, or [not] the right strategy, money doesn’t work.”

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