The Telegraph report that Declan Rice remains a possible target for Chelsea this summer, along with Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, though Jude Bellingham is their priority midfield signing.
But Arsenal are currently considered the favourites to sign Rice, according to the same report, and the Gunners could even provide competition for Caicedo as well.
Speaking to The Athletic’s Handbrake Off podcast last week, Adrian Clarke revealed that Rice has been asking people about Arsenal.
“I can’t reveal my source,” Clarke began. “But I do know that Declan Rice has been sounding out people connected with Arsenal in regards to, ‘What’s it like there? What’s it really like?’, so that sounds like a positive.”
Rice does have some friends in the Arsenal camp from England duty, notably Bukayo Saka, so it wouldn’t be difficult for him to get information.
Mikel Arteta is keen to strengthen his midfield in the medium and long term, and Rice is seen as an ideal player to provide competition in the centre of the pitch.
The England international isn’t going to come cheap this summer, however, with David Ornstein reporting that he could cost between £75m and £85m.
Various reports suggest Rice would prefer to join Arsenal over London rivals Chelsea, so that should help.
Rice is reportedly confident of Arteta’s coaching making him a better midfielder, having seen the Spaniard turn his current Arsenal side into title contenders.
As well as the chance to work under Arteta, Rice is also keen to play in the Champions League, which looks significantly more likely at Arsenal than Chelsea right now.
CBS Sports reported last month that Rice has been speaking to teammates about Arsenal with effusive praise behind the scenes, admitting he’s stunned by the progress the Gunners have made.
West Ham are expected to have to sell in the summer, as Rice’s deal expires in 2024 and he’s been unwilling to sign a new one.
West Ham do have the option to extend by a year, but this looks like their best chance to cash in.