Declan Rice ready to share his transfer preference as Arsenal, Man Utd battle for West Ham captain
Amid links with Arsenal and Manchester United, Declan Rice has delivered a significant boost to one of those clubs by deciding his preference, per a report.
Rice will be in demand this summer, when there will only be one year remaining on his contract at West Ham. The Europa Conference League finalists can extend his stay into 2025, but even in that case, they might receive serious offers.
West Ham would like a nine-figure transfer fee before letting their captain go. Whether their valuation is realistic can be debated, but the proof could come when Rice’s suitors start bidding.
Arsenal have made Rice their top target this summer, when they could lose this season’s starting partnership of Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey. Mikel Arteta would like his club to wrap a deal up early for Rice as a replacement.
However, several sources have recently indicated that Man Utd are ready to make a move for the 24-year-old as well – while also pursuing his best friend, Chelsea’s Mason Mount.
According to the Daily Mirror, though, Rice is ‘ready to make it clear’ that he would prefer to join Arsenal this summer.
Arteta has been building up an exciting project in north London, which appeals to Rice. Besides, he wouldn’t have to leave the capital by signing for them.
Rice is eager to step up to Champions League level next season, which either Arsenal or Man Utd can offer. But his ideal solution would be to experience it under Arteta’s guidance.
Arsenal increasingly confident of signing Declan Rice
As such, Arsenal are convinced they are in ‘pole position’ to sign Rice, per the report. That said, they will still be some way off agreeing a transfer package with West Ham.
But with the Hammers bracing themselves to lose Rice, who came through their academy after joining from Chelsea, Arteta will already be visualising how he could use Rice in his own side.
And his counterpart at West Ham, David Moyes, has already accepted that this might be the year in which Rice departs the London Stadium.
For now, the England international will understandably be focusing on the remainder of the season. West Ham have a final Premier League match of the season against Leicester City on Sunday before the Conference League final against Fiorentina on June 7.
The chance to win a first trophy of his career – as captain, no less – is worthy of Rice’s full focus. There is a chance it could be his last appearance for West Ham, though, if Arsenal get their way.
This season, which might be Rice’s last at West Ham, the midfielder has played 48 times in all competitions. He has scored five goals in that time, also providing four assists.
West Ham have enjoyed the full share of his 243 appearances at club level to date. Along the way, he has scored 15 goals in their colours (adding 13 assists). By next season, though, he could have left them to line up for someone else – such as Arsenal.
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