While a summer raid is more likely, the fact that preparations are already underway could mean that United try to land the England midfielder this coming winter.
This would be terrible for West Ham, who are slowly beginning to build their team around Rice. He may not be the most expansive player, and he certainly needs to develop if he is to become the complete defensive midfielder, but he has the potential to be world class, and the foundation that he provides at the base of the engine room is a key part of the Hammers’ approach. So far this season he has averaged 3.3 tackles, 2.2 interceptions, and a pass completion rate of 89% per game, as per Whoscored, and all the ingredients are there for him to really kick on and reach that top level in the near future. Is £80 million enough to land him? Nobody can say for sure, but you would expect the Hammers to be tempted by such a huge fee, and it could well prove to be a shrewd piece of business, if that money were to be reinvested wisely.