Man United have been told that West Ham ace Declan Rice can be their new Roy Keane as the midfielder continues to go from strength-to-strength for club and country. And the Red Devils could even make the ace their top summer target.
Rice starred for England on Tuesday night as the Three Lions defeated Ivory Coast 3-0 at Wembley. And United icon Paul Ince says the 23-year-old’s qualities are reminiscent of Keane’s. “I think he’s a wonderful player,” Ince said after England’s victory.
“He’s got leadership qualities. Even the way he talks in interviews, you can see he has desires to be one of the best players in the world. You can see his game developing at West Ham. He’s now driving with the ball, making things happen. We talk about the [Steven] Gerrards, Keanes – box-to-box players. This kid is on the same level.
“Give him time because he’s playing as a holding midfield player. I’ve played 20 years in that role and never had licence to go forward. If he can add a few goals to his game, you’re talking about a very, very special player.”
Keane is regarded as one of United’s greatest ever players and captained the Red Devils during one of their most successful periods ever.
The former Ireland international won seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League during his time at Old Trafford.
But he has already stated that Rice is ahead of where he was at the same age. “I think Declan’s improved as much as any player over the last one or two seasons,” Keane said in September. “I know he’s been linked with Man United and, if you’d have asked me a year or two ago, I would have thought give him another year or two in terms of maturing.
“I look to where I was when I was 22. I think he’s way ahead of me when I was 22. I think the next step will come when he’s playing at a higher level, Champions League, competing for trophies. He’s obviously a regular for England. There’s a lot more to come from him.”
United have a whole host of issues to fix this summer and are in desperate need of a goalscorer who can lead the line for years to come as the futures of veterans Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani are up in the air.
But the club also have defensive frailties. And Rice is a player who can make an impact at both ends of the pitch thanks to his tackling abilities, incredible range of passing and driving runs.
So club chiefs may just decide the Hammers midfielder is the number one priority come the end of the season.