Premier League • England

Mikel Arteta has last laugh on Chelsea as £100m signing nears for Arsenal due to key Gunners advantage

Mikel Arteta of Arsenal

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta in a celebratory mood

Arsenal are reportedly confident of reaching an agreement for their top summer target in a deal that will likely set the Gunners back a new club-record fee.

The Gunners are sat five points clear at the top of the Premier League and dreaming of title success. To end their 19-years title drought would prove a significant feather in Mikel Arteta’s cap. Indeed, his objective at the start of the season was a top-four finish. So to smash through that would represent an insanely-good season.

Of course, there still remains some distance to go and Arsenal know they can ill afford any slip-ups. And with Manchester City breathing down their necks, they have an opponent who knows all too well how to finish first.

Nonetheless, with Champions League football close to being secured, Arsenal can at least prep for a return to the competition. Their side has changed quite drastically since their last forray into the UCL back in 2017.

And with the security a top-four finish brings, Arsenal will have an additonal transfer windfall from which to draw from. Furthermore, the offer of Champions League football makes them a thoroughly more-attractive proposition for would-be signings.

To that end, Arteta, along with sporting director Edu have a list of summer targets to pursue. And while they managed to sign Jorginho to bolster their midfield in January, they will still reportedly look at more midfield reinforcements.

Indeed, having seen a bid for Moises Caicedo come close in January, the Gunners may yet still go back in for the Brighton man. However, there are other options open to them. And reports on Monday suggest Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is once again on their radar.

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Arsenal leading Declan Rice chase

However, the Gunners are also reportedly keen on Declan Rice – and he seemingly tops Arteta’s wishlist.

His deal at West Ham is due to expire in summer 2024 and the England star has made it clear he wants to move on.

And while the player now holds the advantage, the Hammers are determined he won’t be sold off for cheap.

To that end, their manager David Moyes has made it clear that any deal for Rice will likely top £100m.

And with interest seemingly also coming from Chelsea too, there is a danger that an auction could see his price go up further.

That, of course, would be entirely against Arsenal’s transfer policies. And it was for that reason why they ultimately felt obliged to walk away from the Mykhaylo Mudryk deal in January.

However, it seems Arsenal are set to have the last laugh with Football.London reporting Arteta has ‘optimism’ a deal for Rice can be done.

Those claims are backed up by transfer journalist Ben Jacobs. He says that Arsenal have a major edge over Chelsea due to the stability of their project.

And with Arteta seemingly safer in his job than Potter, together with Chelsea’s apparent never-ending revolving door of players, it seems the player’s mind is now made up.

Rice clear he wants to leave West Ham

With Arsenal seemingly having a major advantage over Chelsea, it will now be left for the two clubs to strike a deal.

One thing, though, that can be said with certainty is that Rice is clear he wants to move this summer.

And the 24-year-old has made it very clear he sees himself playing in the Champions League.

“One hundred per cent I want to play in the Champions League,” he said in December. “For the last two or three years I’ve been saying that. I’ve been playing consistently well for my club and I feel like I really want to keep pushing. I see my friends here who are playing Champions League and for big trophies.

“You only get one career. At the end you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in.”

That factor alone is likely to give Arsenal another immediate and significant advantage over Chelsea.

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