According to reports, Mikel Arteta will ‘urge’ Arsenal to ‘make an official approach’ to West Ham over signing Declan Rice once this season has finished.
Rice has been scrutinised this season but he has come into his own in recent weeks as he helped West Ham to move away from the relegation zone.
The Englishman has been one of the Premier League’s standout midfielders in recent seasons and it is only a matter of time before he earns himself a major move elsewhere.
He used to play for Chelsea as a youth player so they have consistently been linked with him. But reports in recent months have indicated that Arsenal are the new favourites to recruit the midfielder.
The Gunners tried hard to sign Moises Caicedo from Brighton and Hove Albion in January but they now appear to be focusing on signing Rice.
The 24-year-old is due to be out of contract in 2024 but West Ham have the option to automatically extend his deal on the same terms until 2025.
The Mirror are now reporting that ‘Arteta wants to hold talks with Rice as soon as the season ends’ and Arsenal are ‘increasingly confident’ of signing the centre-midfielder. The report adds.
‘Rice’s contract runs until next summer with the option of another a year and he has rejected offers of a new deal.
‘The England international, 24, who has 41 caps, is keen to stay in London and is interested in a switch to the Emirates.
‘Arsenal’s coach Arteta, who used to play in midfield himself, believes he can help convince £100million-rated Rice to join.
‘He will urge Arsenal to make an official approach once the season has ended to try to tee up a huge transfer when the window opens in June.’
Ex-Gunners star Jack Wilshere thinks Rice would be a “massive signing” for the Premier League giants.
“He’s a midfielder who can do anything,” Wilshere told PA Sport.
“Anyone who supports any club would want Dec to join. If I’m talking from a selfish point of view, in north London, I think he would be very good under Mikel’s watch. Mikel would develop him, bring him on even more and he would be massive for the team as well.
“I have had conversations with Dec and told him what he is doing in unbelievable, he is captain of a big Premier League club and is always learning. I’m looking forward to wherever he goes. I hope it is Arsenal, it would be a massive signing and a perfect fit.”