Mikel Arteta is ready to personally oversee talks with Declan Rice regarding a transfer from West Ham United to Arsenal, according to a report.
Rice has become one of Arsenal’s top targets ahead of the summer transfer window. The time seems right for him to take a step up from West Ham and reach Champions League level. Although they have now been overtaken by Manchester City in the title race, Arsenal have secured qualification for UEFA’s top tournament next season.
Strengthening in midfield for the long term is one of their main tasks for the upcoming transfer window. Their youngest defensive midfielder at present is Thomas Partey, who will be 30 years old by the start of next season.
Therefore, the 24-year-old Rice could become a long-term successor to Arsenal’s existing options in midfield. And now, the Daily Mirror has revealed Arteta’s strategy towards the signing.
According to the report, Arteta wants to speak personally with Rice as soon as the season finishes, encouraging Arsenal to make an ‘official approach’ then in order to allow it. The manager believes he can convince the West Ham captain to choose Arsenal as his next club.
After all, Rice is willing to stay in London and Arsenal can offer him the Champions League football he has been craving.
In order to sign him, Arsenal will have to make a bid in the region of £100m, despite Rice only being under contract with West Ham for another year (with the option of a further 12 months).
If Arsenal are willing to pay that much, they would be breaking their transfer record.
Declan Rice ready for new challenge
The England international has spent his entire senior career with West Ham so far, recently making his 200th Premier League appearance for the club.
His overall record with West Ham includes 238 appearances, 14 goals and 13 assists across all competitions. This season, after inheriting the club captaincy from Mark Noble, he has played 43 times, getting four goals and the same number of assists.
West Ham have been stuck in the bottom half of the table, though, despite enjoying a run to the Europa Conference League semi-finals.
Therefore, it could be time for Rice to progress his career elsewhere. Arsenal are among those hoping to benefit.
Their midfield currently consists of Partey, Granit Xhaka, Jorginho and Mohamed Elneny. Albert Sambi Lokonga has been out on loan at Crystal Palace since January.
Reports over the weekend claimed that Arsenal could listen to offers for former captain Xhaka this summer. Although he has been one of their best players this season, his contract is due to expire at the end of next season.
Consequently, there could be a few openings for Rice in the Arsenal first team. For now, though, the Gunners are waiting to make their formal move.
Once they do, Arteta will be ready to take charge of tempting Rice to the Emirates Stadium.