United have identified West Ham's Rice is the ideal man to fill the defensive midfield position as he continues his fine form this season.
It's reported that the 22-year-old is 'among the options in midfield' for United and that the player is aware of their interest.
However, there is reportedly an acceptance in Manchester that long-time admirers Chelsea remain in pole position to complete the signing.
Whoever wins the race they will have to cough up big money to do so as Rice is contracted to the Hammers until 2024. The report adds that West Ham would demand at least £70million for his signature.