Arsenal have opened preliminary talks with West Ham United over signing club captain Declan Rice this summer, according to reports.
The England international has made no secret of the fact that he wants to play at a higher level, with a departure from the Hammers looking inevitable.
But now, Arsenal could potentially use Reims loanee Folarin Balogun as a makeweight in any deal for Rice, as they look to drive down West Ham’s asking price.
As previously reported by TEAMtalk, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are all in the race for the midfielder. However, with a price tag of £100m, Rice will be an extremely expensive summer signing.
This season, the 24-year-old has made 34 Premier League appearances for the Hammers, scoring three goals and making two assists. Domestically, it’s been a disappointing campaign for West Ham, who currently sit in 15th place in the table.
Although, they have achieved significant success in the Europa Conference League – and will take a 2-1 advantage into their semi-final second leg against AZ Alkamaar on Thursday.
With that in mind, Rice will be hoping to finish his Hammers career on a high. But David Moyes will no doubt be looking to make some additions ahead of next season.
Arsenal could use Balogun in Rice deal
Now, according to Football Transfers, Arsenal are considering a part-exchange deal for Rice, as they look to bring his price down.
Although it’s not confirmed who that player might be, their report notes that West Ham hold an interest in Balogun. So, it would make sense that he is the one who could be used in a swap deal.
This season, the 21-year-old has scored 19 goals in 34 Ligue 1 appearances while on loan with French side Reims. This has attracted the interest of several top clubs, with Paris Saint-Germain registering an interest in the youngster.
Arsenal have reportedly slapped a £35m price tag on Balogun, who, so far, has not indicated a willingness to go out on loan again next season, or sign a contract extension at the Emirates.
Indeed, if he were to fight for his place in Mikel Arteta’s starting XI, he may find it difficult to break into the side. Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah have played a key role in the Gunners title charge, so it seems unlikely he would get much playing time next term.
So, the best thing for Balogun could be a move away. Whether or not his next destintion will be West Ham, though, remains to be seen.