In the world of football transfers, Arsenal are setting their sights on a record-breaking acquisition. West Ham’s midfielder Declan Rice, the man at the heart of this drama, could become the most expensive player in Arsenal’s history. With the deal estimated to reach a staggering £100m when certain add-ons come into play, the North London club are on the brink of making headlines.
The Imminent Departure
West Ham are bracing themselves for Rice’s exit. Despite the sting of losing their star player, a smooth dialogue between the clubs suggests a sense of inevitability surrounding the deal. As reported by Jacob Steinberg in The Guardian, while Arsenal are yet to officially make their move, all signs point to an agreement in the near future.
The Gunners have made the 24-year-old their prime target, with no apparent stumbling blocks when it comes to personal terms. Eager to ensure a seamless transition, Arsenal are ready to part with around £90m. However, the Hammers are holding out for add-ons that could push the price tag above the £100m mark, eclipsing Arsenal’s previous record £72m fee for Nicolas Pépé in 2019.
Fending off Rival Interest
The allure of Rice’s football prowess is universal, yet Arsenal’s fierce pursuit has left rivals in the shadows. Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Newcastle, and Manchester United have all shown interest in the West Ham skipper. But, it’s Arsenal who have been the most assertive in their intent to bring Rice to the Emirates, actively making room in their roster by considering offers for Pépé and Cédric Soares.
The Arteta-Rice Connection
Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta is an ardent fan of Rice, viewing the England international as a linchpin in his quest to mount a Premier League title challenge. In the grand scheme of Arteta’s squad revamp, the impending departure of Granit Xhaka to Bayer Leverkusen leaves a midfield spot tailor-made for Rice. Simultaneously, Arsenal are also exploring options like Brighton’s Moisés Caicedo and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gündogan.
Rice, an admirer of Arteta’s football philosophy, has rejected West Ham’s attempts to retain him, with West Ham’s largest shareholder David Sullivan revealing last week that Rice turned down a £200,000-a-week contract extension.
West Ham’s Contingency Plan
Rice’s legacy at West Ham ended on a high note, leading the team to victory against Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final. However, life post-Rice is already under consideration, with Ajax’s Edson Álvarez, Fulham’s João Palhinha and Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse on the radar.
West Ham’s structural strategies are also under scrutiny, with the possibility of hiring a director of football being reconsidered after discussions between Sullivan and David Moyes, who will continue to steer the ship after guiding the club to their first trophy in 43 years.