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Arsenal still interested in Declan Rice after giving up on Jude Bellingham

declan rice west ham

Arsenal signed Jorginho from Chelsea in January to provide cover for Thomas Partey, but Mikel Arteta still wants another defensive-midfielder if reports are to be believed. The Gunners have given up on signing Jude Bellingham due to financial constraints, but Mike McGrath of the Telegraph says Arsenal remain interested in Declan Rice.

The 24-year-old has made 232 appearances in all competitions for West Ham United, scoring 12 goals with 13 assists, but his time in West London might be coming to an end. Rice has publicly expressed a desire to play in the Champions League and is out of contract in little over 12 months, so United might have to cash in early while he still has value.

Do Arsenal need Rice if Partey is staying?

But while McGrath claims Arsenal want Rice, wouldn’t Arteta have to drop Partey to fit him in? The England international surely wouldn’t make the switch to Arsenal if he wasn’t guaranteed a starting place, given how many other clubs are reportedly interested, so time will tell where he ends up.

The Gunners would have to pay around £75m for Rice’s signature too, so they aren’t sanctioning such a lofty spend on a player that isn’t first choice. Partey is a regular with two-and-a-half years remaining on his deal, so it’s hard to see him leaving.

Mohamed Elneny, however, is another story. The 30-year-old has started only one league game this season, amassing 103 minutes of top-flight football, so he might be one defensive-midfielder to make way. His deal is up in 2024 and Arsenal won’t want to lose him for nothing next year.

Rice would be a significant upgrade on Elneny. He’s contributed four goals from 29 league outings this campaign and is fourth in the league for interceptions per game (1.6). The 24-year-old would be second in Arsenal’s squad for tackles per game (2.2) too, so he’s highly adept at turning over the ball. And with an 88.5% pass completion, Rice would bring some composure in possession.

Arteta would love a player of his calibre if Elneny was moved on, but would Arsenal really pay up to £75m to replace their third-choice defensive-midfielder? Partey and Jorginho have proven good enough for this season’s title challenge, so it might be better to strengthen a position Arsenal are weak in.

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