Arsenal: Rice is 'big' Arteta admirer as Gunners deal edges closer

By Pete O'Rourke, Transfer Correspondent

23rd Feb, 2023 | 6:45am

Sources: Declan Rice is 'huge' Mikel Arteta admirer as Arsenal deal edges closer

Declan Rice is a “huge admirer” of Mikel Arteta following the Spaniard’s work to transform Arsenal into Premier League challengers in recent years, sources have told Football Insider.

This site revealed on Monday (20 February) that the Gunners lead the race for the 24-year-old – and are in sustained contact with the midfielder’s representatives.

Rice, who was previously valued at £150m by West Ham boss David Moyes, will be one of the most sought-after players in world football this summer – but sources say the race is now “opening up” for Arsenal to complete a sensational deal.

The England international midfielder is widely expected to leave West Ham in the off-season after making no secret of his desire to play at the highest level possible.

He has less than 18 months left to run on his contract at the London Stadium, and Arsenal are willing to raise his weekly wage into and beyond the £200,000-a-week bracket.

It is believed that Rice’s unwillingness to commit to a new deal means West Ham are only likely to be able to command a fee of between £70-80million for their most saleable asset.

Get Exclusive transfers news at Football Insider's YouTube TV channel

That outlay is not expected to be a problem for Arsenal – who are likely to be buoyed financially ahead of likely qualification for the Champions League this season.

Arteta’s side are in the driving seat to play in Europe’s premier club competition for the first time since the 2016-17 season, and could win a first Premier League title since 2004.

That is a far cry from the Spaniard’s first season in charge, when he led the Gunners to an eighth-place finish after taking the job in December 2019.

The capture of Rice would be just the latest in a number of exciting additions geared towards transforming Arsenal into a force to be reckoned with in European football.

Captain of West Ham, the 24-year-old has played every minute of every match in the Premier League so far this season.

In other news, Football Insider updates with Arsenal well placed to agree early deal for £35,000-a-week star.