He’s a really good player. I think he’d be excellent alongside Casemiro, really, really solid, and anyone that looks at his progressive passing stats for the last two seasons will know that he is very good at getting the ball forward. He would be a very good number 8 for us. That said, my preference would be to play a different way, and get in an 8 that has a greater weighting towards playmaking and ball retention than Rice does. A player in the Modric role. Nicolo Barrella springs to mind.
But what Rice gives us is essentially two players in one. He can play very well as that 8, lending more defensive solidity but being a true box to box to link the DM and AM, but he is also a true 6 replacement too. And when Casemiro is unavailable, we still have a viable midfield. If we sign a playmaking 8, we still need an understudy for Casemiro. Combine the costs for those two and it may come to around the same or more than one Rice. So I see the logic in this.
Whatever happens, the budget is going to have to be supplemented by outgoings.