Manchester United accept the midfield is the ‘biggest problem’ in their squad as they continue preparations for the summer transfer window.
United have a week to reinforce in the winter window but that remains highly unlikely as they have a bloated squad of 29 players.
The club commenced plans for the summer window in September and are finalising their shortlist of targets, with the midfield identified as the priority position.
United are long-time admirers of Declan Rice and the West Ham midfielder asked Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw about the club whilst on international duty with England last year.
United are also expected to be in the market for an attacking addition as Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata are due to leave at the end of their contracts in June.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has spoken with Erling Haaland’s father, Alf-Inge, to gauge the possibility of signing him.
A defensive signing is also under consideration as Eric Bailly and Phil Jones could be sold in the summer while former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer targeted right-back Kieran Trippier because of reservations over Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s attacking output.
Although Brighton full-back Tariq Lamptey has been linked to United Tottenham’s interest is believed to be more concrete.
Dean Henderson is allowed to leave then a back-up goalkeeper would be recruited as the 38-year-old Lee Grant is also out of contract in the summer.United are planning with the intention of appointing their next permanent manager before the end of the season.
The club are mindful of the benefit of settling on Rangnick’s successor well in advance of the summer window opening in order to avoid a scenario as chaotic as when David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
The presence of a new chief executive in Richard Arnold is not expected to be as damaging as when Ed Woodward became the executive vice-chairman in the same summer Moyes took over.
Sources have confirmed Arnold will have a reduced role in football matters as a structure is in place with football director John Murtough, technical director Darren Fletcher and Rangnick due to assume his consultancy role in July.