Man Utd signing Kalvin Phillips over Declan Rice could help John Murtough with two deals

Manchester United’s reported decision to refocus their attention from Declan Rice to Kalvin Phillips could save them the necessary funds for transfer chief John Murtough to pursue two other deals. United enjoyed a fantastic summer window this time round, but worrying cracks have started to form in recent weeks which suggests there is still work to be done on their squad.

United’s poor run of form was kick-started by an embarrassing Champions League defeat to Swiss minnows Young Boys.

That loss makes Tuesday’s tie against Villarreal even more important, and their confidence will have taken a hit from separate defeats to West Ham and Aston Villa over the past two weeks.

The defensive midfield position has long been considered one of the last remaining areas which boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may need to revise, with other positions brimming with talent.

Declan Rice is one candidate to make the step up, but West Ham are virtually guaranteed to make life difficult for any interested party based on how this summer unfolded.

A £100million price-tag has reportedly encouraged United to instead turn to bitter rivals Leeds in pursuit of their classy midfield general Kalvin Phillips.

The Daily Star claim that £60m would be enough to land the England international which is still a sizable fee, but he has already shown plenty to admire during his fledgling Premier League career.

It would mean the player crossing the forbidden divide between United and Leeds, but other notable figures have trodden the same path such as Rio Ferdinand and Eric Cantona.

The money they could save from foregoing the opportunity to sign Rice could allow Murtough to pursue two other deals.

First of which could be Erling Haaland. The Norwegian has a £65m release clause which becomes active in 2022, but the fierce level of competition for his signature will allow him to command huge wages.

A number of other top clubs are poised to try their luck with the Borussia Dortmund striker, but United could do so with a clear conscience if signing Phillips saved them some cash.

Signing a right-back has also been mentioned before, with United seemingly close to landing Kieran Trippier this summer before their attempts ultimately fell short.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is seen as a solid defensive option, but Solskjaer is thought to favour an attacking alternative to exploit lesser sides.

Max Aarons is another who has been linked with the Red Devils in the past, and although he is enduring a torrid time with Norwich this season, those links could also be resurrected.

In freeing up the space to pull off two more major signings, United could ultimately be left with a better squad, even if it means seeing Rice potentially go to one of their title rivals.

Whether Phillips would be receptive to a move considering his fan-favourite status at Leeds, however, is another thing altogether.

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