Arsenal could have ‘clear run’ at midfield star as Chelsea ‘don’t have the capacity’ without ‘fire sale’

Ciaran McCarthy
Declan Rice, West Ham, January 2023

Arsenal could get a “clear run” at signing midfield target Declan Rice in the summer as rivals Chelsea “don’t have the capacity” to do so without a “huge fire sale,” according to a journalist.

That Rice is going to make a move to one of the Premier League’s biggest sides has been clear for some time. He’s been West Ham’s most important asset for the past few seasons.

Not only that, but he’s one of the best players in the league not playing for a ‘big-six’ side. The Hammers’ valuation of north of £100million for the Englishman might have deterred the big hitters from coming in for him.

But with the 24-year-old’s contract running out at the end of next season, it seems a move will soon come to fruition.

Chelsea have long been admirers of Rice, who spent time in their academy. But of late, it’s been Arsenal who have looked the favourites to sign him.

In January, it was reported the midfield star had ‘given his word’ to the Gunners that he would join them.

Insider Ben Jacobs has since termed Arsenal the ‘favourites’ because of the midfielder’s desire to stay in London, coupled with his goal to play in the Champions League.

Not only are they now seemingly ahead of Chelsea in the race, but there might not be a race at all. Indeed, journalist Paul Brown believes the Emirates outfit might be going after Rice without competition from the Blues.

“Chelsea spent so much money in the last two transfer windows that I don’t think they would have the capacity, shall we say, to sign someone like Declan Rice without a huge fire sale of players simply because they might be in trouble with cost control rules in the Premier League,” he told GIVEMESPORT.

“So, it’s possible that Arsenal get a clear run on Rice this summer, which would be incredible.”

If it was just a case of Chelsea’s intent, they’d surely be in the mix for Rice in the summer. But it’s true that they’ve spent a lot of money on new players in the last two transfer windows – north of £500million.

How they’ve not been hindered by Financial Fair Play regulations already is something of a surprise. Any more lucrative buys without seeing some players depart could see them burned.

However, that’s not to say they won’t be looking to offload anybody. There’s not space for all the new talent in the squad alongside all the existing players.

Some might be looking to jump ship after the massive influx of late, given there could be better playing opportunities elsewhere.

As such, while Arsenal look to be leading, the pursuit might not be as cut and dried as is reported. Indeed, potential interest from sides other than those two clubs have not even been mentioned, and could mean for competition.

READ MORE: Neville claims Liverpool, Arsenal target would ‘be comfortable in any midfield in Europe’