Premier League champions Manchester City are plotting a summer bid for West Ham United’s teenage midfielder Declan Rice as they look for a long-term replacement for Fernandinho, according to reports.
City manager Pep Guardiola is apparently keeping tabs on the teenager, who has cemented his place in the Hammers’ first team this season with a series of impressive and assured displays, with an eye to a bid in the summer. The way Rice reads the game and influences play has been likened to his Brazilian counterpart.
Fernandinho has been a mainstay for City in recent seasons but will turn 34 before the end of the season, so Guardiola is looking to the medium-term and finding a replacement for him, given that there is no obvious candidate within the current first team squad.
Guardiola will monitor Rice’s progress for the rest of the season to see if he can maintain his form throughout a season.
Rice, 19, only signed a new five-year contract last month – which means that West Ham can demand top dollar for him – but this is apparently not putting City off, according to The Sun. After all, money is no object for the Saudi-backed club.
The youngster has also yet to decide on his international future. He is eligible to play for England and the Republic of Ireland. England boss Gareth Southgate names his next squad next month, and it is thought he is keen to secure Rice for the Three Lions. This may also have a bearing on Guardiola’s thinking as he will count as a home-grown player.
Any bid for Rice will likely have to be in excess of £50 million, given his contract length, age and potential.