Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand says his former club should have battled Arsenal for the signature of Declan Rice.
The England international had been regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford in previous summers, but the Red Devils did not provide any competition for the player when West Ham sold him to the Gunners for £105m. Speaking on his FIVE Youtube channel (quotes via Metro.co.uk), Ferdinand said he would have “100%” gone after the midfielder:
“Declan Rice, I said it before Man Utd he was the player I would’ve 100% gone and got. You could argue there’s midfielders with more ability than him but I would argue that it’s only Jude Bellingham that comes near him in terms of being able to get into a dressing room and trying to get control of that dressing room and get the respect of that dressing room on day two, three, four, straight away.”
“Not only with performances and standards and helping with the culture and the environment but the attitude and the likeability factor, the respect factor that he would get straight away. That’s why I thought he more than anybody it was important that Man United should’ve gone and got and they allowed Arsenal to go and get him.”
There was one big reason why United didn’t pursue Rice
Ferdinand is forgetting the fact that the Red Devils paid £70m for a holding midfield player only a year earlier. Casemiro arrived from Real Madrid in August 2o22, and had a strong first season with the Manchester club.
However, the Brazilian international’s form has subsequently dipped, and he has also had problems with injuries. It could be argued that, if United had been a bit more patient and not splashed out so much on the 31-year-old, they could have had the money to compete with Arsenal for Rice.
Rice did have his heart set on a move to the Emirates
You do also have to take into account that the 24-year-old had already made up his mind about making the switch to the Gunners early on in the summer.
Manchester City made a bid for Rice too, only to back out once they realised that the midfielder preferred Arsenal. It’s more than possible that he would have snubbed United as well.