The Gunners have reportedly set their sights on signing 24-year-old midfielder as their top priority for the upcoming 2023-24 season.
The England international has gained a reputation as one of the Premier League’s most exceptional midfielders, having become a crucial player for the Hammers since his senior debut in 2017. With 12 goals and 13 assists in 229 appearances across all competitions, the midfielder has proven his worth on the pitch.
Despite his success at the East London outfit, there is widespread speculation about Rice’s future with less than 18 months left on his contract at the London Stadium. Several top teams, including Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea, are also said to be interested in signing him, making it likely that Arsenal will face stiff competition.
The Guardian, citing The Mail, reports that Rice is highly likely to leave West Ham in the summer transfer window, with Arsenal being his most probable destination.
Reports suggest that the North Londoners have been in touch with Rice’s representatives regarding a potential summer transfer. During the January transfer window, the Premier League leaders were in the market for a new midfielder but failed to sign Moises Caicedo from Brighton & Hove Albion, eventually recruiting Jorginho from Chelsea.
While Caicedo remains a target for Arteta, Rice is believed to be Arsenal’s primary target. However, both players could cost over £100m, making a move for both players unlikely.
Arsenal currently sitting as the Premier League leaders with a 22-point lead over fifth-placed Newcastle United and 11 games remaining, are on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League.
Rice has made it clear that he has a strong desire to play in the Champions League. In a statement to reporters, he expressed his ambition to compete at the highest level, having consistently performed well for his club in the past few years. He mentioned his friends who are currently playing in the Champions League and winning major trophies.
Rice believes that a player has only one career, and at the end of it, they want to look back at the significant accomplishments they have achieved. He is determined to pursue his ambition of playing in the Champions League and competing in the biggest games in the sport.
West Ham’s sporting director and former teammate of Declan Rice, Mark Noble, has also commented on Rice’s ambition to play in the Champions League. Noble acknowledges that the football world is such that players want to compete in Europe’s elite club competition, and he cannot blame Rice for sharing that ambition.
Noble praised Rice as a fantastic player and a top person, who has been performing at a high level consistently for West Ham. He understands that Rice’s desire to win trophies and play in the biggest games is natural and does not begrudge him for it. However, Noble hopes that Rice will continue to perform well for West Ham until his eventual departure.
To finance a potential move for Rice, Arsenal may consider selling Kieran Tierney, Nuno Tavares, and Albert Sambi Lokonga during the upcoming transfer window.