West Ham midfielder Declan Rice could spark a three-way transfer battle between Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, according to the club’s former striker Tony Cottee.
The 20-year-old’s form over the past 12 months has drawn admiring glances from a number of the Premier League’s top sides and earned him his first senior caps for England, having switched allegiance from Republic of Ireland.
Could Rice move to a “Big Six” club? Five things to know…
- Rice completed more passes (1,312) than any other West Ham player in the Premier League last term.
- Reports say United are still interested in signing Rice despite missing out in the summer.
- This comes after Manuel Pellegrini said Rice is “available at a price” back in March.
- But Cottee believes Man City and Chelsea could also enter the race.
- Rice is a boyhood Chelsea fan, and started at their academy, but would likely have to wait until next summer for that move.
United failed in their search for a deep-lying midfielder in the summer but it is thought Rice remains one of their long-term targets, although Cottee believes they won’t be the only club chasing his signature.
“I do like him [Rice] as a centre-back. I think he will end up there,” he told talkSPORT.
“That’s what you are buying. You’re buying a holding midfielder player, but you are also buying a player that can play centre-half in a back four and in a back three as well. So, you are getting a really, really top player.
“I am sure Manchester United would want him. I am sure Manchester City would want him in that holding role, though they have just bought Rodri.
“Of course, let’s not forget, he did grow up as a Chelsea fan. Maybe once their embargo [is lifted], they’ll be looking as well.
“There are many, many teams that will be interested in Dec, but I want him to stay at West Ham. And to do that they need to win [a] cup or get into Europe.”
Cottee: Phil Foden must leave Man City
While Cottee believes Rice could attract interest from Man City, the former striker went on to urge Phil Foden to engineer a way out of the Etihad Stadium.
Foden is regarded as one of the most talented English players of his generation and is thought to be highly regarded by manager Pep Guardiola.
But the 19-year-old has featured in just 10 minutes of football for City so far this season, while only three of his 13 Premier League appearances in 2018/19 came from the start.
And Cottee believes that, if he’s not getting game time in Manchester, Foden should be looking for a loan move away from the club in order to gain first-team experience.
He added: “I’m really frustrated with Phil Foden. He is an unbelievable, outstanding young footballer but he’s got to play!
“If you’re sitting on the bench, yes people will say he’s training with the first team, but it’s not the same as playing.
“You have to get the game time and experience. He needs to play. This is a big season for him, and he’s not playing!
“If I was Phil Foden, I would be banging on that door every single week and saying, ‘I want to play and if you’re not going to play me, I’m going out on loan’.”