WEST HAM’S disappointing December has given Manchester United a major boost in their hopes of signing Declan Rice.

United’s interim boss Ralf Rangnick agreed to the club pushing on with their detailed assessment of Rice as one of their top summer transfer targets.

They know they will need £100million to convince West Ham to sell their England midfielder.

But until now there were genuine fears the Irons could scupper any chance of a deal by qualifying for the Champions League.

Top-level European football would give them huge power to reject any advances for Rice, 22, who still has two more years left on his deal.

But it will be difficult to match the player’s ambitions if they fail to secure a top-four finish.

And taking just eight points from 18 last month has dealt a major blow to those hopes.

Though West Ham got back to winning ways after beating Crystal Palace 3-2 on Saturday to move back into fifth spot.

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SunSport understands United are likely to seize their chance in the coming weeks to do the groundwork in putting together a big bid at the end of the season.

The aim would be to make Rice the centre-piece of their side.

Yet they may not have it all their own way in the battle for one of England’s best players, with Manchester City and Chelsea both long-term admirers.

With the Hammers insisting their talisman is not for sale, both clubs have kept watching from a distance.

But at the first sign a deal may be possible, they could make a move.

Read our Transfer News Live blog for the very latest rumours, gossip and done deals

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