Why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to bring West Ham’s Declan Rice to Manchester United

Rice reads the move and wins the ball for her side

The momentum continues to build, connecting Manchester United with a decision by West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.
The 22-year-old has been in sensational form for the Hammers this season, playing a pivotal role in their impressive season which could yet end with a Champions League qualification.

Even so, reports suggest a move to Old Trafford could attract the man from West Ham, and the Manchester Evening News revealed earlier this week that he had asked United players about the club in the qualifiers for the England national team’s World Cup last month.

As it stands, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer normally rotates a midfield quartet made up of Scott McTominay, Fred, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic to play the role of his double pivot in a 4-2- formation. 3-1.

While these four tend to fill the role at an adequate level, there have been a number of performances, like Leicester City’s in the FA Cup last month, which indicated United need a midfielder. much stronger pitch if he really wanted to challenge at the top of the Premier League next season.

Pogba aside given that he’s widely believed to be United’s best midfielder, Fred and McTominay have proven to be reliable and solid, albeit unremarkable, while Matic, who turns 33 in August, has started to decline rapidly.

Therefore, Rice’s introduction could act as a blow in the arm of United midfielder, adding both quality and a new dimension to the squad.

At West Ham, Rice tends to feature in variations of a midfielder two, as he would at United. This indicates that his transition to the heart of the United squad could be seamless.

However, an added layer of appeal is the versatility it shows, a comfortable deeper or more advanced game with little drop in its abilities. This gives Solskjaer greater options if he needs to adjust or modify his squad against specific opponents.

In terms of measurable output, we can see how the England international stacks up this season against each of McTominay, Fred and Matic below.

(You can see a lighter version of the image below here).

Rice compared to McTominay, Fred and Matic
(Image: Wyscout)

While Rice has been involved in just under 90’s duels, he has the highest success rate for both ground and air battles.

He also has the best success rate, despite having the highest average pass length, indicating that he is ready to attempt longer, more penetrating passes while maintaining a high level of accuracy.

Rice’s contribution, however, cannot be captured in numbers alone. This is because he has a number of immeasurable traits such as bravery, leadership, and a clear tactical conscience. We can see an example of the latter here.

Rice is aware of Saka’s movement between the lines

In West Ham’s recent 3-3 draw with Arsenal, note how Rice is building up good position and body shape while her side are ballless. Despite the various risks around him, he remains aware of Bukayo Saka’s position as the threat begins to grow.

Rice reads the move and wins the ball for her side

As the ball progresses Saka is the target of an intentional pass, however, Rice is conscious and moves quickly to suck the ball up as the Arsenal striker attempts to turn around and walk towards West Ham’s goal. His anticipation and speed here stop the attack and regain possession for his team.

Based on all of the above, it’s clear why Solskjaer is so keen on bringing the 22-year-old to Old Trafford. He ticks a lot of midfield boxes and would be an instant upgrade on most midfielders already at the club.

If United can land him, along with a new striker and center-back, however they want, then you wouldn’t legitimately bet against them for the Premier League title next season.

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