Declan Rice becomes the new transfer priority at Arsenal

Declan Rice, England (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Declan Rice, England (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) /

Arsenal is set to focus its attention on West Ham captain Declan Rice as the North London club looks to swoop in for the midfielder this summer

As first reported by Gary Jacob of The Times (paywall), Arsenal is looking to sign Declan Rice this summer from West Ham, who believe that they are the front-runners for the English international, valued at £80M.

Funny enough, Chelsea were long-time favourites to be Declan Rice’s next club. Rice spent 8 years at Chelsa’s academy in Cobham.

After stealing Arsenal’s top target for £89M, Mykhailo Mudryk, Arsenal will be looking for some payback by bringing boyhood Chelsea fan Declan Rice to The Emirates Stadium.

Rice joined West Ham’s academy in 2014, having been released by Chelsea earlier in that year. Rice has gone on to make 220 appearances at the senior level for the East London-based club and earned the captain’s armband in May 2022 after the retirement of Mark Noble from professional football.

Declan Rice was formerly an Irish international before filling a one-time switch to play for England, where he was born and raised. Rice has played a crucial role in Gareth Southgate’s side at the World Cup, starting every game and going the full 90′ in all but one match. Much like the World Cup, at the Euros in 2021, Rice started every game during England’s impressive run to the final.

One of the biggest qualities of Rice’s game is his ability to cover large stretches of the pitch and dictate the play through the midfield. While Rice is absolutely a defensive midfielder first, he is known to quite often to get involved in the play in the final third.

What does it mean for Arsenal’s midfield?

Arteta this season has primarily used a 3-man midfield with Partey, Xhaka and Odegaard being the preferred choices. Odegaard as expected plays in an attacking role while Partey and Odegaard lie deeper in the midfield, looking to pass the ball out to Martinelli and Saka on the wings. While Granit Xhaka has become a fan favourite at Arsenal, his contract does expire in 18 months and he also turns 31 this year. Declan Rice will be both an immediate upgrade in the midfield and also a long-term investment as he has just turned 24 this month.

Waiting until the summer could prove to be a smart business from Arsenal as West Ham could potentially be relegated this season and Rice will be available at a bargain price.