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Arsenal ‘optimistic’ about signing Declan Rice from West Ham

declan rice west ham

Despite Mikel Arteta having Thomas Partey, Jorginho, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka at his disposal in midfield, Kaya Kaynak of Football.London writes that Arsenal are ‘optimistic’ about signing Declan Rice from West Ham United this summer.

The Gunners’ interest in the 24-year-old is no secret, with Jit of Football Talk covering Dean Jones comments to Give Me Sport earlier this month. Jones said Arsenal ‘would love’ to sign Rice over anyone else, but there is sure to be stiff competition for his signature.

Ben Jacobs of Caught Offside estimated that Rice’s asking price is around £70m, so Arsenal might have to match their transfer record to sign him – €81m (£72m) for Nicolas Pepe in 2019/20, as per Transfermarkt. That’s not to say Rice isn’t worth the outlay, however.

The England international would be second in the Arsenal squad for tackles per game (2.2) and first for interceptions per game (1.6) as per WhoScored, so he’d be a brilliant addition to the engine room. Partey (1.1) and Jorginho (1) haven’t created more chances than Rice (1.1), and no regularly playing midfielder has a better pass completion (89.1%), so it’s easy to see why Arteta is keen.

Whether Arsenal’s transfer pursuit of Rice is successful is another matter, however, as Kaynak notes that Chelsea and Manchester United are showing a fervent interest. Chelsea had Rice as a youth player and sold him to West Ham in 2013, so they might feel they have an edge as his boyhood club.

Regardless, Rice leaving West Ham seems certain after he admitted wanting Champions League football in December, as reported by the Guardian.

The 24-year-old’s contract is up in 18 months and the Hammers can only extend his deal for another year, so they might feel it’s better getting maximum value now rather than risk losing him for nothing later down the line.

Elneny has made just a handful of appearances for Arsenal this season while Jorginho is in the twilight years of his career, so Rice would be a significant upgrade and long-term option in midfield. Arsenal could win the Premier League title too, so they’re a more attractive proposition than Chelsea and Man Utd.

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