West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has been subject to constant transfer speculation over the last 18 months.
The 22-year-old, who has led the Hammers this season as they continue to mount a dream top-four charge, is also one of the first names on England’s team-sheet ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 championships this summer.
According to the Manchester Evening News, however, Rice has already picked the brains of England team-mates Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw because he is interested in making a high-profile move to Old Trafford.
What that in mind, here is what leading Premier League pundits have said about Rice and the possibility of him moving on from West Ham.
There’s no doubt that Rice has improved drastically since he first burst on to the scene at the London Stadium.
Indeed, he has even been handed the captain’s armband by West Ham manager Moyes this term as they continue to upset the odds in the race for top four, with Champions League football potentially on the horizon.
Having worked with the player in the Republic of Ireland set-up, Keane said: “Where he needs to improve, there are plenty of aspects when you think about it.
“Over the last few months, he has had a lot of praise. I worked with him when he was with the Ireland squad.
“Where he needs 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…”
It’s not only United who have been linked with a high-profile transfer swoop for the England man.
Indeed, former club Chelsea, led by ex-manager Frank Lampard, failed in a pursuit for their former academy player last summer, much to the disappointment of his would-be manager at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard said: “We are fortunate to have him in England. West Ham are fortunate to have him. He’s a leader and it’s clear that he’s destined for great things.
“I have probably given it away with how I spoke about him, but I think it’s common knowledge that I was a big fan of his. I don’t want Declan to be in an uncomfortable position, because what I see from him is absolute performance and a desire to play for West Ham.
“The choice will be Declan’s as the years go ahead, but his performances are great to watch.”
As a graduate of the famed West Ham academy, Joe Cole knows exactly what it’s like to be subject to high-profile transfer speculation.
Of course, the playmaker opted for Chelsea when he departed the Hammers in 2003 – a switch that was ultimately followed by spells at Liverpool and Aston Villa, either side of a short-term return to east London.
Speaking on the All to Play for Podcast in January, Cole said: “I think what happens in the next three months at West Ham, if West Ham could nick European football, Europa League, I think he should stay because there’s progress.
“I’m just putting myself in the lad’s boots, there’s progress now if that’s the case, but if that’s not the case and he doesn’t play for England at the Euros and they go for someone else in his position, his head will be turned, so we’ve got an opinion, but it’s going to change in the next few months.”
A shining light in West Ham’s dream season, there could be even more to come from Rice between now and the summer – and looking further ahead – both domestically and on the international stage with England.
Writing in his column for the Evening Standard, ex-Three Lions manager Glenn Hoddle suggested that while Rice shouldn’t rush a move, he will eventually end up at one of the Premier League’s more established big-hitters.
He said: “They are having a great season and he is having a great season himself.
“We know he has defensive abilities, we know can slip into defence if needed and he smells danger quite well. He keeps the ball and I think he is just now adding a little bit more to his passing.
“He is a good player now, but in two or three years time, and West Ham fans will not want to hear me say this… he could move to a top club.”
Similarly to Cole, former England defender Rio Ferdinand was hot property when he progressed through West Ham’s ranks around the same time as Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe.
But where does he see Rice’s much talked about future laying?
During an episode of his own Five With Five podcast in January, Ferdinand said: “I don’t think he goes this window. He stays there until the end of the season.
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“I don’t think he’s the type of kid who is going to push to leave right now. If it happens, it will be between the clubs. He won’t be the person to instigate it.
“I think he is quite a laid-back kid in that sense but I see him as someone, I’ve spoken to him. Not about this transfer but he’s a driven kid. He wants to achieve things and he’s a sponge.
“He reminds me a lot of myself in that respect. He asks you questions like; ‘What was it like training with at United?’ That would be about a player in his position. He wants to know everything, you can’t fault a kid like that.
“It’s inevitable that he is going to go. If I’m being realistic it will be the summer and it would be Chelsea if he gets his wish. I think West Ham will want to get as much as they can.”