Rice to Arsenal in doubt as £150m transfer debt revealed and West Ham outline record demands

Matt Stead
Arsenal target Declan Rice

West Ham are demanding a British record fee for Declan Rice after outlining their preferred deal structure, with doubts as to whether Arsenal can afford it.

Rice has been identified by Arsenal as their priority transfer target in a summer Mikel Arteta hopes can transform the Gunners from Premier League runners-up to champions.

Their pathway to the Hammers captain seemed to be cleared by chairman David Sullivan earlier this week, when he admitted of Rice that “we promised him he could go” and “you can’t keep a player who doesn’t want to be there”, with the Europa Conference League final victory expected to be his final game for the club.

Sullivan added that “I think the offers will start to come today” from the “three or four clubs” who have “shown interest”, and West Ham’s demands have come to light.

The club want at least £110m for Rice, according to The Sun, which would represent a British record fee in excess of the £106.8m Chelsea paid Benfica for Enzo Fernandez in January.

The Daily Telegraph suggest Arsenal hope to strike an agreement at a much lower price, as they ‘have been working on structuring a deal worth £92m’.

But Gary Jacob of The Times casts doubt on their finances, stating that Arsenal’s transfer debt – the Gunners owe £150m on recent deals according to company accounts, which do not cover the last two windows in which they spent close to £200m – could hamstring them.

‘The repayments could determine the level and structure of what they can spend this summer,’ Jacob writes, ‘albeit the club will earn a significant sum from finishing second in the Premier League and playing in the Champions League next season.’

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It is also said that while Arsenal have not yet made a ‘formal approach’ for Rice, their proposed opening bid ‘would be rejected by West Ham’, who want a nine-figure sum paid in three instalments.

Arsenal will therefore have to raise their own valuation of the midfielder, while rejigging the structure of any offer.

With competition emerging from Newcastle, Man Utd and Bayern Munich, that might not be straightforward. Some reports state the Gunners have a £92m deal for Rice in place but Newcastle in particular might prove to be an obstacle, although their interest is likely to be undermined by a wage which would shatter their current pay structure.

In his interview with talkSPORT, Sullivan also confirmed Rice had rejected offers of £200,000 a week to stay at West Ham 18 months ago, giving an indication as to how much the 24-year-old might expect to be paid by a Premier League rival.