A childhood friendship that has seen them play together for the Chelsea Academy, as team mates for England and opponents at club level, could now be about to see Declan Rice and Mason Mount join forces at Manchester United.
Mail Sport reported on Wednesday that the Red Devils would look to steal a march on their rivals by launching a £55m bid for Chelsea star Mason Mount.
Just over 24 hours later, it has now been reported that Erik ten Hag’s side have also joined the race to sign £100m rated West Ham skipper Rice.
The Red Devils face heavy competition for both, with Liverpool and Arsenal linked with a move for Mount, with the Gunners and Bayern Munich among the clubs interested in Rice.
However, with United on the verge of securing Champions League qualification, if they can tempt one to join then it could lead to the other deciding to get the two-man band back together.
Declan Rice and Mason Mount could be set to get the band back together at Man United
Mount (left) and Rice (right) have been best mates since the age of eight when they played for Chelsea’s academy – who the latter was later released from at the age of 14
They have played as opponents at club level, team mates while representing their country and could now be set to join forces if they both complete respective deals to the Red Devils
Should one join Man United – it could tempt the other to also make the switch to Old Trafford
Mount and Rice have both played big parts for England in recent years, helping them to the final of Euro 2020 and both part of the Three Lions’ squad at the World Cup in December
The pair first met when they were eight years old at Chelsea’s academy – a time when the thought of playing in the Premier League and representing England was merely a dream.
When speaking to the Guardian in 2019, the duo could still recall exactly how they met all those years ago – starting their journey to playing together for England.
‘It would have been on a Tuesday night at training,’ Rice explains. ‘We were seeing each other four times a week from the age of eight and that was up until we were 14.’
At 14, Rice received the news that no young player wants to hear – as Chelsea decided to release him. This left Rice needing to find a new club, and also parted him away from his best mate.
Rice’s release hit Mount and his family just as hard, with the Chelsea midfielder stating: ‘We have been together for a long time. My mum and his mum were on the phone crying together.’
They both went their own ways with Mount joining Dutch side Vitesse on loan in 2017, before impressing a year later under Frank Lampard at Derby, and breaking into the Chelsea side in 2019.
Rice meanwhile found his feet at West Ham, receiving his senior debut on the last day of the 2016-17 Premier League season and quickly becoming one of their most reliable players.
Despite not being at the same club – the two have remained close and regularly holiday together – going viral on social media after Mount scared his England colleague while he attempted to speak.
The pair have one of the most notable bromances in football, with a video famously going viral of Mount scaring his England colleague while he tried to sleep
Mount (left) has endured his most frustrating season at Chelsea with uncertainty over his contract situation, while Rice (right) has been the beating heart of his West Ham team
Speaking on his social media fame, Rice said: ‘When I woke up, he was on the floor in hysterics, literally crying! It was only when we got back to the hotel that I thought ‘That video is bad!’.’
Their bromance is regularly seen at international level, with the childhood friends always hanging out together on international camps.
Mount and Rice’s respective links to Manchester United come after varying seasons for the pair.
The Chelsea star – who won the club’s player of the season award in the prior two campaigns – has struggled this year in what has been a miserable season for the Blues.
Constant speculation over his future and whether he will sign a new deal has been the big talking point of his season, and despite incoming Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino being a big fan, it looks like he could be on his way out of his boyhood club this summer.
Rice has been the beating heart of West Ham’s midfield this season, and though there’s no question about his love for the club, he has previously spoken of his desire to play at the highest level.
The pair could help bring Manchester United back to the top of the English game
It appears that Rice and West Ham are set for an amicable divorce this summer, with Rice set to get the opportunity to play Champions League football and challenge for trophies – something he has not yet experienced unlike his best friend Mount.
Both men have big decisions to make this summer on where their futures lie, with top sides in the Premier League and Europe interested in both players.
But the prospect of reuniting at club level is likely to interest Mount and Rice – which in turn, could benefit United’s hopes of landing both players.
The pair would have dreamed of achieving success together as young players, though at the time, it would have been with Chelsea.
Instead they could be playing a big part in helping bring Manchester United back to the top of English football if the Red Devils can attract them both to make the move.