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Arsenal make Declan Rice their top summer transfer target

declan rice west ham

West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice is Arsenal’s top midfield transfer target ahead of the summer transfer window, according to Football London.

The Gunners want to bolster their midfield options with the signing of the England international at the end of the season, despite bringing in Jorginho from Chelsea on January deadline day following a long-term injury to Mohamed Elneny.

The Italy international is seen as a short-term option in midfield to complement the likes of Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, and Martin Ødegaard for the rest of the season.

The 31-year-old has featured in three games so far and played a key role in their 4-2 win over Aston Villa last Saturday to move them top of the Premier League table after Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Nottingham Forest.

The North Londoners were linked with several midfielders in the winter transfer window, including Brighton ace Moises Caicedo, but the South Coast club rejected two late bids worth at least £70m from Arsenal.

Youri Tielemans and Sergei Milinkovic-Savic have also been linked with a move to Arsenal but the club’s no.1 transfer target is Rice and the newspaper claims the Gunners are unlikely to have the funds to compete for Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham in the summer.

Quality signing

Rice has forged a reputation as one of the best-holding midfielders in the Premier League since signing his first professional contract with West Ham in 2016, making over 200 appearances, scoring 11 goals, and providing 13 assists in the process.

He featured in all the games for England at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as they exited the competition in the quarter-finals, losing to 2018 champions France.

According to Football London, Arsenal are prioritising a move for Rice due to Bellingham’s asking price, which is believed to be around £150m, and with several clubs interested in doing business with Dortmund, the price could increase.

Rice’s current contract with West Ham will expire in 2024 and he has reportedly rejected approaches from the club regarding signing a new deal to stay at the London Stadium. Therefore, the Hammers will be forced to cash-in if they receive a suitable offer, and Rice is valued at around £70m by Transfermarkt.

The midfielder’s desire to play in the Champions League could help Arsenal lure him to the Emirates as the Gunners are on course to win this season’s Premier League title and are well-placed to finish in the top four.

Read more: Ornstein: Arsenal ‘admire’ £132m star as Mikel Arteta eyes key addition this summer

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