Arsenal are set to formalize their pursuit of Declan Rice in the coming days with the Gunners confident that the West Ham captain will pick them in the race for his signature. Rice played what is likely to be his final game in West Ham colors on Wednesday in the Europa Conference League final, a 2-1 win for the Hammers that meant the 24 year old was the first Irons captain to lift a major trophy in 43 years.
Arsenal are expected to open talks with West Ham in the coming days but their initial offer is expected to fall short of the £100 million minimum price that the Hammers would want for their star man. Mikel Arteta's side are confident that their top target Rice is keen on the move, indeed sources close to the deal indicate that a move across London is currently viewed by the England international as his favored option with a young family keen to settle down in the capital.that Rice was keen on a move to the Emirates Stadium and the admiration has not cooled from either party.
With two years remaining on the player's contract, West Ham acknowledge that now would be the right time to cash in on Rice, but sources close to the club indicate that they will not be rushed into agreeing a deal with the Gunners if other buyers could yet emerge in the market. Manchester United appear to be the most credible alternative but their ability to commit to such major deals is hampered by the ownership situation at the club. There is so far no sign that the Glazer family has decided whether or not to sell the club, with Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos the two remaining bidders for the Premier League giants.
Bayern Munich are also said to be keen on Rice, while Manchester City are also long term admirers. For the time being there may not be space in in Pep Guardiola's squad, but if interest from Barcelona and Saudi Arabia in Ilkay Gundogan results in them securing his services -- currently viewed as an unlikely event -- then the Premier League champions would constitute serious rivals for Arsenal.
Particularly appealing to Arsenal is how Rice could slot into multiple positions across their midfield. Arteta will need an option to replace Granit Xhaka, bound for Bayer Leverkusen, but for England and West Ham Rice is often deployed as the deeper pivot man. Across his squad Arteta wants to have versatile players who can fill in in multiple positions, and they are looking for players who can do that in defense, where targets include Mohamed Simakan and Devyne Rensche, and their frontline.
Rice's most natural role would appear to be in succeeding Thomas Partey, who has two years left on his Arsenal contract. CBS Sports sources have indicated that there has so far been no dialogue about extending that deal, though the player himself favors staying in north London rather than exploring rumored interest from Italy.