By Will Butcher
Arsenal are weighing up a move for West Ham wonderkid Declan Rice, according to a report.
The Sun claim that Rice’s commanding performances in the Hammers’s development side has caught the eye of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
It is said that the 17-year-old defender is one of the outstanding prospects in British football and, because he has three years remaining on his contract, it would take a “huge” bid to seal a deal.
Known for his preference in signing younger players, Wenger has already brought in the likes of defender Rob Holding and Japanese hotshot Takuma Asano this season.
Rice has starred in the Hammers’ reserve side this season, making 10 appearances and wearing the captain armband despite teaming up with players older than him.
During those 10 Premier League 2 appearances, Rice has been pivotal in keeping three clean sheets.
His rise to stardom has even seen him make three appearances for the Republic of Ireland’s Under-19s side.
The defender is highly rated by West Ham boss Slaven Bilic, after Rice starred during the Hammers’ pre-season tour of Austria in which they faced Russian side Rubin Kazan and Czech outfit Slovacko.
West Ham could price Arsenal out of a move though, with three years still remaining on the youngster’s London Stadium deal.
Football Insider verdict:
Its says a lot about the 17-year-old that he is already captaining West Ham’s Under-23 side. Showing a maturity well beyond his age, Rice’s future looks to be a bright one as his conduct both on and off the pitch continues to impress the Hammers’ hierarchy. His love of defending is a rarity in the modern game, and could be the kind of sternness that Wenger is looking to add to his defensive ranks. The Ireland youth international could benefit from a move to the Gunners, with Wenger known for his faith in youngsters in which he gives them every chance to shine. As doubts continue to cloud the future of club captain Per Mertesacker with his contract set to end in the summer, Rice could be identified as his long-term replacement.
In other Arsenal transfer news, this report states how the Gunners will use their huge transfer kitty in January.