JAMES WARD-PROWSE is the man Erik ten Hag wants to boss Manchester United’s new midfield.
And that could spark a £75million summer tug-of-war, as City chief Pep Guardiola is a big fan of the Southampton skipper.
Ten Hag faces a huge rebuilding job at Old Trafford and has already started drawing up a hit-list.
And he has got the OK to go for Ward-Prowse, 27, with West Ham intent on keeping Declan Rice for one more season.
The Hammers want £150million for Rice, too much for the Red Devils, who will almost certainly miss out on the Champions League next term.
Yet JWP, who would cost half the price of Rice, is rated highly by Ten Hag.
Old Trafford sources reckon he can play in the midfield holding role.
Ward-Prowse earns around £100,000-a-week with Saints, meaning his salary — even with a hefty hike — is no stumbling block either.
His five-year contract runs until June 2026, and he is not pressing for a move although the lure of joining one of football’s big guns would be hard to resist.
Guardiola wants a midfielder to replace the departing Fernandinho.
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The City boss has called JWP one of the world’s best dead-ball specialists.
But he would not be guaranteed regular first- team action at the Etihad.
Ten Hag will get a kitty of around £100m, but can double that through sales and other departures.
Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly and Anthony Martial are all likely to be sold.
Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani will join Nemanja Matic through the exit door, saving £660,000 A WEEK in wages on those three alone.
Meanwhile, Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia, 22, is set to join for £20m.