Premier League • England

Exclusive: Arsenal have finalised ‘biggest signing since Sol Campbell’ as inner workings of Declan Rice transfer are revealed

Declan Rice is ready to sign for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta

Declan Rice is ready to sign for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta

Arsenal are hurtling towards the end line in the Declan Rice transfer with Mikel Arteta and Stan Kroenke deserving enormous credit for securing the £105m deal, according to Charles Watts.

The Gunners made the 24-year-old England midfielder their priority signing this summer and are now on the cusp of landing their man. But reaching the end goal with West Ham has proved far from easy with the Hammers chairman David Sullivan sticking by to his valuation.

That saw Arsenal initially having to fend off Manchester City, who ultimately backed away once the Gunners agreed a £105m package. That move – a record fee between Premier League clubs for a British player – will see West Ham pocket £100m guaranteed with another £5m in instalments.

And while eyebrows have been raised at the costs involved, Rice is being backed as the type of player who can take Arsenal to the next level.

Furthermore, Arsenal expert Watts insists the money is simply indictative of the transfer market today.

And he believes the deal underlines the pulling power Arsenal now have.

“It’s all done. It’s fully agreed and he’s coming over for medical, which will take place in the next 48 hours,” Watts told TEAMtalk.

“We’re finally at the end game with Declan Rice and he will be confirmed as an Arsenal player very soon. The price was agreed but Arsenal wanted to pay for as long as possible and West Ham wanted to get paid over as short as possible. And so there’s been a bit of to-ing and fro-ing going on and everyone kind of came to a compromise. ”

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Declan Rice is a huge coup for Arsenal

“It’s the biggest signing since Sol Campbell from an Arsenal point of view. It’s absolutely massive in terms of a player who I think is brilliant, has shown that every single season he’s taking his game to a new level.

By working with Mikel Arteta, he’s just perfect to get even more out of him because Mikel, to work the way he works on the training ground, how much he improves players, I think Declan Rice is going to thrive under him.”

Watts is adamant that everyone associated with Arsenal should be hugely excited about the addition of the 43-times capped England man.

“Everyone who speaks about Rice they’ll say that each year he improves, he adds something different to his game. With a player who has the capability to do that work under a manager like Mikel Arteta,the sky’s the limit in terms of what Declan Rice can achieve. He’s 24, huge leader, huge presence,” he added.

Arsenal also deserve plenty of credit for beating City to his signature.

“Arsenal beating Manchester City to sign him, and what that says off the pitch and what that says about the direction of the club is heading, it’s a monumental signing on so many levels for Arsenal,” he continued. “And it says such a huge amount about how they’re viewed now.

“In the last year, they’ve signed Martinelli, Saka, Saliba, Gabriel, Ramsdale, to new contracts and these players could walk into any club in the world.

“Saka, especially, Martinelli, especially, Saliba especially could literally go into any club in the world right now. And they decided to stay and commit themselves to Arsenal for the long term.

“A few years ago that just wouldn’t happen. They would have lost at least one of those players, probably two. We have seen it year after year. And that hasn’t happened. They are keeping their best players, they believe in what Arteta is doing. They believe in the project, they can see good things and that’s a huge thing. Players want to come, players from other clubs have seen what’s happening and they want to come in.

Rice fee is inconsequential to Arsenal fans

“They’re choosing Arsenal over Manchester City. Declan Rice has chosen Arsenal over Manchester City. There can’t be any bigger compliment to what’s happening at Arsenal right now than those words.

“Obviously the Champions League coming back helps them massively but they definitely need to start selling, they need to get better on that.

“With the work that they’ve done in the last few years in reducing the wage bill massively, that has given them the opportunity to do this now and really attack the market. The Kroenkes have, obviously, backed Mikel Arteta and deserve a lot of credit for that. ”

The fee Arsenal will pay for Rice will smash the club’s previous record fee, set in 2019 for Nicolas Pepe.

However, the French winger rarely looked like proving his worth while at Emirates Stadium.

Watts, though, is adamant that there will be no such problems with Rice.

“I don’t think Arsenal fans care how much they’re paying for these players. They just want them through the door. If you sign a 24-year-old England international, one of the first names on Gareth Southgate’s team sheet, and he’s the captain of another Premier League club, you’re just not going to get him for cheap. It’s just today’s market. Yes, it’s high. Yes, it’s going to get a lot of attention but I don’t think Declan Rice is the type of player who is going to be fazed by that.

“Nicolas Pepe probably was. I mean, he just wasn’t a £72m player. That was clear. It was evident pretty soon after he joined. Good player, but not a £72m player and I don’t think he was ever able to shake that price tag off. He was always ‘the £72m Nicolas Pepe’.

“I don’t think Declan Rice is going to be ‘the £105m Declan Rice’, he’s just going to be Declan Rice! I just don’t think it’s going to faze him. He’s not that type of player. He’s not that type of character from what I understand.”

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