Arteta to beat Ten Hag as Fabrizio Romano hints £90m star wants Arsenal move over Man Utd with £26m striker heading other way

Declan Rice of West Ham is wanted by Arsenal

Arsenal remain in pole position to seal the signing of Declan Rice this summer in what will prove a club record deal, despite late interest from Manchester United to hijack the deal.

The England star is certain to depart West Ham this summer after another brilliant season with the Hammers. Once again being named the Hammer of the Year for a third straight season, Rice’s final game for the club will come in the UEFA Conference League final.

A first trophy for West Ham since the 1980 would certainly mark a fairytale end to Rice’s time at West Ham. But with just a year left on his deal – albeit the Hammers do hold a one-year option – efforts to tie him down to an extension have failed.

Indeed, Rice has made it 100% clear that he wants to take his game to the next level and play in the Champions League.

As a result, a move to Arsenal has looked a likely outcome for a good few months now, especially given it will allow Rice to stay close to his London base.

Mikel Arteta is desperate to bolster his midfield this summer with Rice fast emerging as a top target. And while West Ham will not let him leave on the cheap, a deal in the region of £90m will reportedly be enough to twist their arm.

However, their prospects of signing Rice appear to have taken a downturn recently after Manchester United rekindled their interest.

Erik ten Hag is an enormous fan of Rice and was left bedazzled by his display against them recently. As a result, United are reportedly willing to launch a massive bid to beat Arsenal to his signature.

READ MOREMan Utd activate £100m move for Prem standout with Ten Hag to create absolute dream partnership

Declan Rice ‘prefers Arsenal over Man Utd’

However, speaking on the House of Champions podcast, Fabrizio Romano has provided a significant update.

Claiming that Arsenal remain in pole position, he says Edu and Arteta have already put in significant groundwork on the deal.

“Yes, (Ten Hag is) an admirer and I think that’s normal,” Romano said. “It is the same with Mikel Arteta and I still think that Arsenal are the favourites to sign Declan Rice.

“They have been working on that deal. And it was in January when they started discussing Rice internally.

“They’ve already had him at the top of their list for the midfield, so I’m sure Arsenal will make a bid for Declan Rice in the next weeks.”

And it seems West Ham’s interest in also signing Falorin Balogun could also tip the scales in their favour.

The striker is enjoying an outstanding season on loan at Reims from Arsenal, scoring 20 goals.

And with Arsenal reportedly willing to sell, the likes of RB Leipzig and AC Milan are both showing a willingness to strike a deal.

However, West Ham are also hot on his trail with David Moyes seeking a new source of goals. Italy striker Gianluca Scamacca has not really worked out and the 24-year-old will reportedly return to Serie A.

In his place, Moyes is increasingly likely to turn to Balogun.

And with Arsenal reportedly seeking a fee in the region of £26m, the Gunners could use the recently-declared USMNT striker as a makeweight in any deal for Rice.

The Gunners won’t stand in Balogun’s way, though could reportedly insist on a re-sign clause in any transfer of the 21-year-old.

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