Arsenal are set to submit a club-record offer for Declan Rice (Image: Getty)
Arsenal are set to submit a club-record proposal for Declan Rice following West Ham’s 2-1 UEFA Europa Conference League triumph over Fiorentina in Prague as Edu prepares to accelerate a monumental push for Mikel Arteta’s priority summer transfer target. Although the Gunners are understood to have carried out initial groundwork on the deal behind the scenes, they have been reluctant to personally press the Hammers captain for clarity on his future until the conclusion of West Ham’s season.
While Rice is now due to celebrate lifting the Irons’ first major trophy in over 40 years, which came courtesy of Jarrod Bowen’s 90th-minute winner against Fiorentina, he has now publicly acknowledged that a decision over his future is pending.
Arsenal are now prepared to submit their opening offer for the defensive midfielder and internally, the Gunners are striving to wrap up the acquisition of Rice as soon as possible.
That’s because he is absolutely central to their summer transfer plans having previously been identified as their top target back in January when they failed with a discreet push for the 24-year-old lynchpin.
Furthermore, there are also rival suitors at the table, not least Bayern Munich who are prepared to sanction a big-money transfer for Thomas Tuchel following private discussions between the German tactician, Rice and his entourage.
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Declan Rice still has one year remaining on his West Ham deal plus a 12-month option (Image: Getty)
While Rice is understood to favour remaining in the Premier League, he did seemingly indicate after achieving Conference League glory that his future lies in the hands of the West Ham hierarchy, who are unlikely to give their captain up without a fight as they look to spark a bidding war.
“I genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen at the moment, that’s my honest answer. To read it myself is actually getting quite boring,” Rice told Sky Sports.
“It’s flattering to be wanted by so many clubs but I’ve still got two years left on my contract so ultimately, it’s up to the people above.”
West Ham chairman David Sullivan has since confirmed via talkSPORT that the Hammers have agreed to let Rice depart.
When asked if the Conference League final was his final game for the Irons, he said: “I think it has to be. We promised him he could go. He set his heart on going. You can’t ask for a man who has committed more to us this season.
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The predominant issue Arsenal are facing is that while they are desperate to move quickly to land Rice, there is currently a delicate timeline on the horizon that offers little room for extensive transfer negotiations.
Upon flying back to England, West Ham will embark on a victory parade in east London on Thursday evening and on Friday, Rice is due to attend the wedding of team-mate Pablo Fornals with West Ham’s Conference League heroes.
The England squad are then due to report at St George’s Park on Monday for UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and Macedonia, although Rice has already been granted additional time off by Gareth Southgate alongside Manchester City’s Three Lions stars following their involvement in their respective European finals.
Rice seems highly unlikely to travel to Malta for England’s first fixture of the international break on Friday, June 16 with Southgate expected to rotate his squad and cast an eye over the likes of Lewis Dunk, Conor Gallagher and Eberechi Eze.
It means we could potentially see movement on Rice’s future as soon as next week, although West Ham are seemingly in no rush to sanction the departure of their trophy-lifting skipper.
West Ham are keen to encourage a bidding war for Declan Rice (Image: Getty)
Arsenal are prepared to offer £90million for Rice and the structure of their opening bid could hold the key to any breakthrough.
West Ham would ideally like the majority of that figure upfront meaning Arsenal’s financial muscle could seriously be put to the test as they seek to beat rivals to the punch.
The Gunners are yet to sanction Granit Xhaka’s impending departure to Bayer Leverkusen as they want a suitable replacement secured first before waving goodbye to the Swiss international.
Edu also remains firmly interested in a swoop for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo but Arsenal are unlikely to possess the spending power to execute both deals (alongside Rice) without significant player sales.
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