Arsenal have emerged as shock candidates to land a deal for West Ham midfielder and England regular, Declan Rice, according to reports.
Chelsea have long been linked with bringing Rice back to Stamford Bridge, where the 23-year-old began his youth career. However, it seems that their London rivals may try and scupper their plans.
The Hammers midfielder’s contract is due to expire in 18 months and he has repeatedly refused to sign an extension, which suggests David Moyes could cash in on Rice while his price is still at a premium.
The Athletic recently reported West Ham have conceded internally Rice must finally be sold in the summer of 2023.
Now, transfer expert Ben Jacobs has echoed those claims, reporting West Ham are resigned to losing Rice this summer and could sell him for around £70m-75m. That is £30m less than what was quoted in the summer.
Rice has been at West Ham for the entirety of his senior career, chalking up 218 appearances across all competitions and becoming arguably their most important player, as well as their captain.
He has enjoyed some success, too. In the 2020/21 season, they qualified for the Europa League after finishing in sixth place in the Premier League, their highest ranking since 2004.
Then, in the following campaign, they once again qualified for Europe, finishing seventh and also reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League.
This season, however, paints a very different picture, with the Hammers currently only outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
With their current form, it’s not really a surprise that Rice wants a new challenge elsewhere. He’s persistently talked up the idea of playing in the Champions League and that is an ambition that can’t be achieved with the Hammers.
Rice ‘wants to stay in London’
According to Jacobs’ report, Chelsea are still in the race for Rice, but Arsenal are also serious contenders.
On Thursday, he wrote: “Sources have said on multiple occasions that Rice would like to stay in London, which opens the door to both Arsenal and Chelsea, perhaps more so than Manchester United.
“Rice, personally, is ready for a new challenge, and he’s spoken positively about Arsenal, praising Mikel Arteta.
“Having said that, I don’t think it’s Champions League or bust for Rice. Chelsea have an ambitious project built around young players that they want for the long-term, and I think that will trump something like Champions League football.
“Still, the Champions League does affect a club’s budget, it can stop you getting more than one marquee signing.”
Indeed, Manchester United are another club interested in Rice. However, given the England international has made no secrets about his desire to remain in London, a move to Old Trafford is looking less and less likely.
For Arsenal, he could represent an excellent long-term addition to bolster their midfield. While Thomas Partey has been excellent under Mikel Arteta, he has faced injury problems throughout his career and turns 30 this year. Therefore, signing rice next summer would be a savvy move by Edu and co.
Chelsea, though, are arguably in even more desperate need of a new holding midfielder.
Jorginho looks set to leave the club at the end of the season, after the Blues opted not to offer him a contract extension, while N’golo Kante has also been linked with a summer departure. Of the two, Jorginho looks the likelier to leave.
With this in mind, Rice could be a top-quality number six option for Graham Potter for years to come, but that will ultimately depend if Todd Boehly is willing to splash the cash on him.
It looks almost certain that Rice will be leaving West Ham at the end of the season. The only question is: will he head back to where his career began, or will he join the Premier League leaders?
READ MORE: Man Utd abandon perfect striker chase to give Arsenal free shot at game-changing addition
The article Arsenal tipped to hijack Chelsea move for £75m midfielder in stunning twist, as trusted source reveals why Man Utd will be ignored appeared first on Teamtalk.com.