The England international continues to be linked with a big-money move to Stamford Bridge, but it could be that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer joins the chase
A big-money move to Stamford Bridge continues to be mooted for an England international who once formed part of the academy system in west London.
No agreement has been reached, though, and the door remains open for others to steal in.
It has been suggested that United could join the chase for Rice’s signature, with the Red Devils weighing up their options when it comes to a holding role at Old Trafford.
Smith feels a talented 21-year-old would fit the bill, with the former United star telling American Gambler: “I like Declan Rice as a player and I think he would be a great addition – and is a British-based player, which obviously helps.
“I think he’s one that is a bit more old school than a lot of defensive midfield players are now.”
Pressed on whether he would invest heavily on Rice over long-standing attacking target Jadon Sancho, Smith added: “It all depends on how good Scott McTominay is going to be, as you don’t want to get someone like-for-like that is already coming through the system.
“He’s obviously someone that Ole holds in high regard, he sees him in training every day, and you wouldn’t want to block the pathway of a young lad coming through the United system.
“If he [Rice] is someone that can go in there and virtually guarantee you a league title then obviously you’d say yes, but have you’ve got someone in there that you’d be swapping like-for-like?
“Young players bring inconsistency. Young players get all the plaudits, but it’s the experienced players that keep everything going.”
Smith believes similar questions need to be weighed up when it comes to making additions in the final third of the field, with there no need to spend big on Borussia Dortmund winger Sancho if Solskjaer feels he is already well-stocked in that department.
“If you sign Jadon Sancho, are you stopping the pathway for Mason Greenwood coming through?” Smith added.
“I think that Ole has one eye on increasing the standards to those that they need to reach, but also he saw Sir Alex’s philosophy of bringing younger players through the system.
“That’s something that all the clubs will have to start thinking about, there will be an emphasis on bringing young British-based players through the system.
“A lot of the lads in United’s squad are British-based, and if you look at the younger lads you have [Dean] Henderson, [Harry] Maguire, [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka, McTominay, [Luke] Shaw, Greenwood, [Marcus] Rashford, [Brandon] Williams, so quite a British-based influence.
“They might not be the players that are going to guarantee a title, but you have the basis of a British-based squad, which is what you’ll need when the new rules come in.”