West Ham prepare £26m move for ‘frightening’ Arsenal star who’ll help send Declan Rice the other way

Arsenal trio Eddie Nketiah, Folarin Balogun and Nuno Tavares

Arsenal trio Eddie Nketiah, Folarin Balogun and Nuno Tavares

West Ham are prepared to rival a European giant for the signing of an Arsenal star who could help pave the way for Declan Rice to move across London, per reports.

The Hammers have secured their Premier League status and progressed to the final of the Europa Conference League. Success in the final against Fiorentina in June 7 would see West Ham qualify for next season’s Europa League.

However, despite the season potentially being on course to be a successful one, change is afoot at the club.

Fulham’s Marco Silva remains in West Ham’s sights in the event David Moyes is axed. With regards to playing personnel, striker Gianluca Scamacca could return to Italy.

The Italy international, 24, has endured a torrid maiden campaign in England and has played second fiddle to Michail Antonio since the world cup break.

Gazzetta dello Sport claimed AC Milan were eyeing Scamacca up and a loan deal with an option or obligation to buy is wanted.

Another striker in Milan’s sights is Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun. However, according to Get Italian Football News, Balogun may actually wind up at West Ham in a move that would then allow Scamacca to return to his homeland.

Indeed, the report states West Ham are ready to rival Milan for Balogun who has bagged 20 goals for Ligue 1 side Reims this year. Balogun was previously labelled “frightening” when journalist Paul Brown discussed how high his ceiling as a centre-forward is.

Balogun was loaned out to the French side last summer, though is understood to be available for outright sale at season’s end.

Balogun does not wish to be loaned out once again, though does not have a natural place back in north London. Gabriel Jesus is Mikel Arteta’s first-choice at centre-forward. Eddie Nketiah is the primary back-up, meaning Balogun is the odd man out.

Reports have claimed Arsenal will seek around £25m-£30m for his signature. GIFN list a valuation of €30m (approx. £26m) in their piece.

The outlet also state Balogun’s proposed move to West Ham could pave the way for Arsenal to land No 1 target, Declan Rice.

The England international will be on the move this summer and counts Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool among his suitors.

Rice is understood to prefer remaining in London and wishes to test himself in the Champions League. Arsenal are the only side who can satisfy both demands, though the cost of the deal is an issue.

Indeed, West Ham are understood to be seeking an eye-watering £120m – a figure the Daily Mail suggested Arsenal will be reluctant to pay.

GIFN float the idea of Balogun being included as a makeweight to bring the cost of signing Rice down to a more manageable level.

Alternatively, the two deals could be kept as separate affairs, though Arsenal giving the greenlight to Balogun joining West Ham could secure them a discount on the Rice price.

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