Ornstein: Man City ‘expected to make opening offer’ for Rice as Arsenal threaten to bottle £90m deal

Jason Soutar
Declan Rice holds the Europa Conference League trophy.

David Ornstein says Manchester City are ‘expected to make an opening offer’ for West Ham United captain Declan Rice on Thursday.

Arsenal identified Rice as their number-one target for the summer transfer window back in January and have had two bids turned down by the Hammers.

Gunners director of football Edu has attempted to strike a £90million deal, paid over several years, with the club’s London rivals not keen on those terms.

The Athletic correspondent Ornstein reported earlier this month that Manchester City were likely to enter the race to sign Rice, and it looks like they will make their move on Thursday.

With Arsenal stuttering in their pursuit, Ornstein says City will turn their interest into an official bid with Ilkay Gundogan now set to join Barcelona.

Pep Guardiola appears keen to bolster his midfield despite winning the Treble in 2022/23 and the Cityzens have also agreed a fee to sign Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea.

Ornstein says Arsenal ‘believe’ they are ‘getting closer’ to agreeing a fee with West Ham that they are hoping to receive.

The £90m Mikel Arteta’s side are prepared to pay would be a club record fee, beating the £72m they paid for Nicolas Pepe in 2019.

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Fabrizio Romano obviously chimed in after Ornstein’s report broke. The Italian journalist said City will only bid if Rice tells them he is open to the move, which is a good thing for Arsenal, but if a bid does go in, that means it is pretty much curtains for Edu and Arteta.

Rice is expected to leave West Ham this summer after helping them win the Europa Conference League. His contract expires in 2024, though there is the option for another year, giving West Ham a lot more control in negotiations.

Hammers chairman admitted after the club’s 2-1 Conference League final win over Fiorentina that he would let his captain depart.

“We promised him he could go. He set his heart on going,” Sullivan told talkSPORT.

“You can’t ask for a man who has committed more to us this season.

“In due course, he has to get on and we have to get a replacement – or several replacements.

“It’s not something we want to happen. We offered him £200,000-a-week 18 months ago. He turned it down.

“It’s cost him £10million to stay at West Ham in that time (in lost wages). And he wants to go.

“You can’t keep a player who doesn’t want to be there.”

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