Arsenal make Declan Rice top summer target and optimistic of landing him | Arsenal

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Arsenal will look to sign Declan Rice in the summer and are optimistic about beating rivals, chelsea chief among them, to the West Ham and England midfielder’s signature.

Rice is Mikel Arteta’s top target and could become Arsenal’s record signing, beating the £72m paid for Nicolas Pépé, if a deal goes through. The player is understood to be open to the potential move. Arteta has been keen to bolster his midfield options for the long term and the West Ham captain, at 24 with a wealth of domestic and international experience, would be ideal. Rice has been made aware of where he would fit into Arteta’s plans.

Chelsea will fight Arsenal for Rice and may feel buoyant after outbidding them for Mykhaylo Mudryk, who joined Graham Potter’s side from Shakhtar Donetsk on Sunday despite having been widely expected to end up at the Emirates. Their interest is longstanding and their clout in the transfer market under Todd Boehly and his consortium is beyond doubt. But an inquiry for Rice in August was knocked back and, even though they were expected to make a formal bid, it never came. Manchester United are also expected to take a close interest in Rice’s situation.

Arsenal appear to be favorites to complete a deal at this point and, sitting eight points clear at the top of the Premier League, feel confident of being able to offer him Champions League football. Rice has not experienced that at West Ham and is more concerned with digging them out of a relegation battle this season.

Arteta’s need for top-level options alongside Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey has been a longstanding concern. Arsenal still expect to be active in the transfer window this month as they aim to consolidate their league position but have no problem waiting until the summer to get their man.

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