Declan Rice might have already made transfer decision amid Manchester United interest

Long-term Manchester United midfield target Declan Rice scored in West Ham’s impressive Europa League second leg away win at Lyon on Thursday, helping the Hammers progress to their first European semi-final since 1976. The England international controlled the ball on the edge of the box and fired home, as the Hammers set up a clash with Eintracht Frankfurt for a spot in the final.

The 23-year-old’s development this season has been remarkable. After impressing for England in the European Championship in the summer, Rice has grown into one of the best defensive midfielders on the continent.

Rice’s stock continues to rise, seeing David Moyes reportedly slap a £150 million price tag on his talisman after interest from clubs such as Manchester United. But now with West Ham one step away from a European final, and United seemingly in danger of missing out on European football next season, the allure of a move to Old Trafford may not be as strong as it once was.

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Of course, United still has a great pull, and the imminent arrival of progressive manager Erik ten Hag provides great optimism for the future. But Rice desires European football, he may opt to remain with the Hammers or go elsewhere in England.

The midfielder’s boyhood club Chelsea is also an option, but given the speculation regarding the sale of the club, Rice may decide to remain where he is- especially if David Moyes’ side qualify for Europe. The Hammers have two routes to European football still open, whereas Ralf Rangnick’s United side sit outside the top four.

Should the Londoners make it to the Europa League final, Moyes’s side will be just one step away from guaranteeing Champions League football for next season, as the winners gain automatic qualification.

On the other hand, United were eliminated from this season’s Champions League in the round-of-16 by Atletico Madrid and will struggle to secure a place for next season.

United represented an extremely attractive proposition in the summer, having just finished second in the league after finding their feet under then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The transfer window saw an influx of talent at Old Trafford, with serial winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane joining the highly rated Jadon Sancho in Manchester, and United looked ready to mount a title challenge.

Having narrowly missed out on the top four last season, Rice opted to stay with West Ham, and so far, that has proved to be a wise decision. While the Hammers still have the opportunity for silverware this season, the arrival of Ten Hag at United, and the prospect of an exciting project could turn the England international’s head – but probably not for another season.

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