Arsenal could reportedly find themselves in a “strong position” to sign West Ham United star Declan Rice in the summer ahead of their rivals Chelsea.
Rice is expected to leave West Ham next summer with them finally willing to part ways with one of the Premier League’s best midfielders.
The 23-year-old has been superb for the Hammers as they have qualified for Europe in recent seasons.
But their recent form has left them looking over their shoulders in the Premier League and Rice has admitted that he wants to play in the Champions League.
Chelsea have consistently been considered the favourites to sign Rice when he does eventually leave West Ham. He previously had a spell with the Blues as a teenager.
But Liverpool and Manchester United have also been linked with him as they look to strengthen in midfield.
Before this week, Arsenal were not brought up in the conversation for Rice. But a report from Spanish outlet Fichajes has claimed that they have made a “huge offer” to sign the Englishman.
They are not the most reliable outlet and it is hard to imagine a Spanish website having any kind of insider information about the situation.
Ben Jacobs tends to be more reliable. He has not gone as extreme as Fichajes but he has noted that Arsenal may enter the race to sign Rice.
“It’s going to be quite an open race and Arsenal might well enter it a bit later. If they win the league or at least qualify for the Champions League, they could be in a strong position,” Jacobs wrote for Caught Offside.
“Sources have said on multiple occasions that Rice would like to stay in London, which opens the door to both Arsenal and Chelsea, perhaps more so than Manchester United.”
Jacobs also notes that Rice is available for £70-75m and this price tag makes a transfer “more realistic”.
“Arsenal and Chelsea will definitely be in the race for Rice. He’s a priority for Chelsea, but I think Arsenal could assess that area and weigh it up against other targets,” Jacobs added.
“Chelsea’s interest is more concrete than Arsenal’s, but there’s a growing sense that Arsenal might enter the race because the price he’ll be available for is becoming more realistic; it would have been something approaching a Premier League record fee in the summer, but now the landscape has completely changed.
“Rice, personally, is ready for a new challenge, and he’s spoken positively about Arsenal, praising Mikel Arteta.
“We forget as well that footballers are human beings as well, and being in the right city for them is important.
“In the case of Chelsea and Arsenal, they’ll both be able to offer Rice what he’s looking for – a competitive team in London, and likely some form of European football. Arsenal are near-guaranteed Champions League football and Chelsea aren’t.”
Jacobs also suggested that he does not feel like it is “Champions League or bust for Rice” so that is a boost for Chelsea, who are currently ten points adrift of fourth-placed Man Utd.
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