Former Manchester City defender Richard Dunne believes West Ham United protege Declan Rice will have caught Pep Guardiola’s eye.

Rice, 20, has earned high praise this season for some stellar performances, earning Ireland’s Young Player of the Year award before he later switched allegiances to England.

Could Rice fill in for Fernandinho? Five key things to know… 

  1. A West Ham academy graduate, Rice has been brilliant for the Hammers this season.
  2. Rice began in defence but has been utilised as a midfielder under Manuel Pellegrini, a role that he’s excelled in.
  3. West Ham team mate Mark Noble says that Rice is on the threshold of a long career with England.
  4. And Manuel Lanzini compared Rice with Barcelona legend Javier Mascherano.
  5. Richard Dunne believes that Pep Guardiola will have his eye on him ahead of this summer’s transfer window.

With Fernandinho entering the twilight of his career and Ilkay Gundogan struggling to demonstrate he’s the player to command City’s midfield in his stead, Rice’s composure in the middle of the park makes him a desirable choice.

Dunne, who played for City for a decade, doesn’t believe Gundogan is City’s man for the long-term and believes Guardiola will be keeping his eye on the Englishman.

“I could understand if he [Gundogan] did move on and wanted to go somewhere else to be the main man in the team because he’s a top player but in that squad, he’s just one of many,” Dunne told BT Sport.

“It would be great for Man City to keep him but they have got other options.

“He’s done that role well when he’s filled in but I think his mentality is that he wants to get forward and wants to be involved in the attacking play in the game.

“I think he’s someone that can step into that position for a short period but I don’t think City would see him as the man to fill Fernandinho’s shoes for the long term.

“I think Declan Rice at West Ham has been very good, he’s obviously progressed and has been named in the latest England squad. He’s a player I’m sure Man City are keeping their eye on, like a few other teams will be.”

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Rice also touted as a possible Man Utd target

While Dunne has predicted that Rice could head to City, pundit Danny Murphy thinks it would make sense for the youngster to head to the other side of the Mancunian Way.

Murphy believes that United’s midfield lacks an anchor, and doesn’t have the balance of other top sides: “At the moment, they are using Matic and Ander Herrera together in order to give Pogba freedom in a 4-3-3,” Murphy said. “But they are not as well-balanced a pair as Verratti-Marquinhos were for PSG.

“The right players aren’t easy to find. The next generation are showing promise and I’ll keep a close eye on Harry Winks and Declan Rice.

“They both look like they have the technical ability and Winks is getting useful experience in big games. Is Rice a future Manchester United player? He’s physically strong and only just turned 20, so let’s see.”

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