Manchester United’s summer transfer priority became clear after FA Cup drama – James Findlater

Manchester United fans will be desperate to see this season return and move on to a summer of what should be big changes.

Barring some sort of Champions League miracle, it will be another trophyless campaign for the Reds, and given the wait before a ball is kicked and then everything that followed on and off the plot, this season has certainly provided a greater reality check than most that have come before it.

Change is undoubtedly needed, and it certainly looks afoot in terms of a new permanent manager, but new signings are needed on the pitch.

Erling Haaland is set to provide the main storyline of the summer transfer window as Europe’s top clubs line up for his services, with United among those vying for his signature.

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But on a weekend in which their problems were once again on full display, it was another player who singled himself out as United’s real priority for the summer.

All the attention in West Ham’s victory at Kidderminster on Saturday will be on the cruel nature in which the National League North side were knocked out, conceding an equalizer in stoppage time before another goal in the 121st minute don’t break their hearts.

And if not for Declan Rice, the Hammers would have looked down the barrel of an almighty upset.

With his floundering side, the England international came on as a substitute on the break and instantly picked up the pace, and when his teammates offered nothing of use he took it upon himself to step forward and save their bacon at the dead.

It was a goal that underlined the improvement Rice has shown over the last 12-18 months, and why West Ham are so desperate to keep him.

Declan Rice saved West Ham with his stoppage time goal against Kidderminster
Declan Rice saved West Ham with his stoppage time goal against Kidderminster

Considering they’re looking at at least £100m for their price tag, you can see why United might be a bit hesitant to part with such a high fee, especially given how their big spend has played out over the of recent years.

But if it’s Haaland or Rice, there’s absolutely no doubt which United player should come first.

United have been clamoring for a new midfield general for years now, and they failed to resolve the issue in the January window, which could ultimately be their downfall this season. They have already identified Rice as their ideal signing in midfield, and now is the time to follow up on that interest.

Yes, it was against a side more than 100 places below them, but Rice showed it all by taking that draw against Kidderminster by the scruff of the neck that United are crying out for. Where his teammates were not performing, he rose up and showed himself as a leader in the middle of the park, which the Reds have lacked throughout the season.

Rice has shown he’s the real deal, and at just 23 his game still has the potential to explode. United just have to pull out all the stops to try to sign him this summer.

Previous windows have been littered with big signings that haven’t worked out which might make them reluctant to go big again, but the midfielder is the answer to so many problems United have faced over the years.

Rivals Manchester City and Liverpool have shown how they should approach transfers – both teams had defensive issues so they went big on Ruben Dias and Virgil van Dijk respectively. Likewise with their goalkeepers, and in the case of Liverpool, the signing of Fabinho, which helped break their league title hoodoo.

Haaland will undoubtedly be a tempting hunt for United, but Rice must be the number one target this summer.

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