Declan Rice has ‘raved about Arsenal’, who have made ‘back-channel overtures’ to sign the player Mikel Arteta has a ‘clear plan’ for next season.
Arteta is keen on adding strength in depth to his midfield as they prepare for their return to Champions League football next season.
Rice has emerged as their top target in recent weeks and The Independent claim the Gunners have made ‘back channel overtures’ to secure his signing, with personal terms seen as ‘easy to sort’.
That’s largely becuase Rice ‘has realised it is probably time to move forward with his career’ amid ‘frustration at how West Ham have gone backwards’ under David Moyes this season.
But Rice is also ‘said to be a particular admirer of how Arsenal play, seeing that as one of the best approaches in European football right now’ and has ‘raved about them while watching them with the rest of the West Ham squad’.
There are also thought to be ‘limited opportunites’ to move to a big Premier Leagye with Manchester United focusing their limited budget on a No.9, Manchester City thought to no longer be interested, and Liverpool unable to stump up the £100m likely to be required for the England international.
Chelsea are thought to be Arsenal’s biggest rivals in the race for Race, with the Gunners said to be ‘conscious of how their London rivals beat them to Mykhaylo Mudryk’.
That hijack is said to have ‘brought some frustrated comments from senior figures about how Chelsea are getting involved in everyone’s business’, though Enzo Fernandez’s arrival at Stamford Bridge may have put paid to the Blues’ interest in Rice.
The 24-year-old will also be buoyed by Arteta having a ‘clear plan’ for him, with the Arsneal boss wanting to mimic mentor Pep Guardiola by ‘evolving the attack’ next season.
The report adds: ‘Arteta will not seek to attack or build up play in exactly the same way as he has done in this campaign, and he has one vision for the team where Rice’s abilities – especially his capacity for suddenly surging forward – can be a key part of that. He is also the sort of personality that Arsenal want.’