Man Utd warned they could repeat Jack Grealish transfer mistake

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Former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness has warned Manchester United they risk repeating their Jack Grealish mistake if they do not wrap up a deal for West Ham star Declan Rice quickly. Grealish became the first ever £100m Premier League signing when Manchester City snapped up the Englishman from Aston Villa in the summer.

His exit from his boyhood side had been highly anticipated for many seasons, with the 26-year-old arousing interest from the likes of United, Tottenham, and City when he initially burst onto the scene at Villa Park.

United had been keen to bring in the attacking midfielder, but City ultimately beat them to his signature.

And Hammers’ midfield general Rice appears to be the latest young English talent to have all of the Premier League’s top clubs scurrying for his signature.

Rice has captained David Moyes’ side for the last two seasons, with current skipper Mark Noble no longer a first team starter at the London Stadium.

And Souness believes any club interested in the 22-year-old will have to sign him quickly, before his transfer fee escalates even more.

“Jack Grealish’s transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City for £100million means that’s where the bidding is likely to start for Rice, who’s four years younger at 22,” Souness said to the Sunday Times.

“City already have the strongest group of players in the history of English football, but still collect the best players they can.

“Yes, they have Rodri, but Fernandinho’s 36 and in the final six months of his contract, so Rice is an obvious replacement because they have the finances and are buying when they are on top.

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“City, Chelsea and United will all pay a premium for Rice. The only argument you can offer if you’re buying is that he’s not a striker and that’s where the big money generally goes. It might take Rice to another level.”

Reports from the Sun understand United are ‘preparing groundworks’ for a potential bid for the West Ham ace.

United’s early indications and statements of intent on the England international appear to suggest they have learned the lessons from their failed pursuits of Grealish.

United were frequently linked with a move for the Manchester City ace, but opted to sit on their hands when it came to the business end of transfer windows, resulting in Grealish’s transfer value accumulating to the point he became the most expensive signing in Premier League history.

However, Ralf Rangnick’s side seem to be more proactive in their pursuit of the former Chelsea academy product, who has also been linked with Manchester City.

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And Souness believes Rice is not only good enough to star for both sides, but he also believes he could very well be worth the enormous investment.

“At first, I feared he might become one of those ‘steady Eddies’ who play it safe and square all the time and as they say ‘recycle possession’ rather than have an impact on matches for their teams.

“Now I reckon Rice is going to be an in-demand footballer with the bigger clubs. Whether it’s Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City. “I don’t think Liverpool will be in the chase for him, but the other three will.

“My doubts were whether he’d have enough football in him to play in midfield.

“He could, ultimately, still play at the back, but right now that would be like tying his bootlaces together because he has so much energy to burn and the technique to get out of tight areas.”

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