Arteta told England star is ‘perfect’ signing as boss says there is a ‘good chance’ of summer transfer

Jason Soutar
Mikel Arteta arrives for an FA Cup match against Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium

Former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood thinks West Ham midfielder Declan Rice would be a “perfect” signing for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

The England international is expected to leave the Hammers at the end of the season.

The Gunners are believed to be winning the race, though Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea are also reportedly interested.

Arteta would obviously prefer to avoid a bidding war, with West Ham obviously hoping one materialises.

David Moyes’ side reportedly want at least £100million for their captain – who is out of contract in 2024, though the Londoners have the chance to extend his deal by a further year.

Rice would comfortably slot into Arteta’s starting XI as a deep-lying or box-to-box midfielder and Sherwood says it would be the “perfect” addition, especially with Granit Xhaka’s future at the Emirates up in the air.

“I would be surprised if he [Rice] was still there [at West Ham] next season,” Sherwood said on the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast.

“I think it’s time to do the right thing by the player and you could say possibly the same thing with Harry Kane – they have been great servants to their clubs and it’s right for them to move on to progress their careers.

“He’s been heavily linked with Arsenal and I think that would be a perfect move for him. I think he’d make a real difference.

“It looks like Granit Xhaka is going to move on with it being the end of his contract and Declan looks the perfect player to slot into that role and improve it.

“He will add goals. Both Casemiro and Rodri chip in with goals and Declan does as well but just not as many because he’s occupied with the defensive stuff.”

READ MORE: Arsenal ‘fear’ history repeating over top target as £130m ‘bidding war’ takes shape

In a boost to Arsenal’s hopes of landing the midfielder, Hammers boss Moyes has said there is a “good chance” Rice leaves the club this summer.

“We honestly hope he stays,” said Moyes. “We’d love for him to be a West Ham player but we are aware that might not be the case at the end of the season.

“So that’s one of the scenarios around planning. There are plans that we have Dec here but we’re also fully aware there is a good chance we won’t have him.”

Moyes has been unable to formulate plans for next season while West Ham’s Premier League status remains unclear, although last week’s win over Manchester United has left them all but safe.

“The planning has been put on the back burner. It’s always been about making sure you’re a Premier League club,” added the Scot. “Your planning will go completely if you weren’t.

“A lot of it will only start to go into place once we’ve realised we have kept our Premier League place. We’re watching a lot of players, a lot of games, doing a lot of scouting, but the truth is the focus has been on staying in the Premier League.”

West Ham head to Brentford on Sunday on the back of Thursday night’s 2-1 win over AZ Alkmaar in the first leg of the Europa Conference League semi-final.

Moyes is set to make changes with the second leg in the Netherlands in mind, with Rice, Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio – who was limping after the AZ match – expected to be rested.

“We are still assessing a lot of players, we are less than 24 hours from the game,” he said. “There are obviously knocks and bruises but I am hoping Michail is not too bad.

“We will assess him but he should be good for Sunday.”

READ MORE: Big Weekend: Arsenal v Brighton, Guardiola, Man Utd, Leicester’s Maddison, EFL play-offs