Rice has had an excellent start to the season and is regarded as one of the hottest properties in Premier League football, with Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United all expressing serious interest in the 23-year-old.
The Hammers have repeatedly failed to lock Rice down with a contract extension – the England international’s deal expires in 2024 – and the club is bracing for a flurry of proposals for their prized treasure in the summer.
However, a trade will not be cheap, as West Ham and manager David Moyes are seeking more than £100 million for their vice-captain.
When asked about Rice’s future, ex-Arsenal and England midfielder Merson told Sky Sports, ‘I think he’ll be gone this summer.’
‘I believe Manchester United will win.’ If you’re Manchester United, you have to spend a lot of money.
‘If you look at their midfield, it isn’t strong enough, they don’t control football matches, and they need to go get him,’ says the coach.
‘I believe he is the greatest in the business; he has improved tremendously; he has raised his game not one or two notches; I believe he has raised it tenfold.’
‘From a holding midfielder, he is now bombing forward, scoring goals, creating chances, and scoring goals.’
‘I can’t speak highly enough of the guy; I believe he’s been absolutely outstanding,’ says the coach.
Rice was released from Chelsea’s academy when he was 14 years old, and the Champions League holders are apparently eager to lure the Englishman back to west London.
Merson, on the other hand, believes Thomas Tuchel already has a well-stocked midfield with three ‘unbelievable’ players in Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, and N’Golo Kante.
‘Chelsea could go and grab him,’ he remarked, ‘but they could do without him.’
‘They still have Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, and N’Golo Kante — three terrific midfielders who control football matches.’
‘However, if you look at Manchester United, the midfield isn’t powerful enough to win anything.’