Declan Rice: Arsenal given big transfer nudge by PSG star with Arteta handed big reason to push West Ham deal through

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West Ham midfielder Declan Rice Credit: Alamy
West Ham midfielder Declan Rice Credit: Alamy

Arsenal have been given an even stronger reason to sign top summer target Declan Rice after a glowing endorsement from one of the game’s elite midfielders over the past decade.

Mikel Arteta’s side are sat eight points clear at top of the Premier League after winning 22 of their 28 fixtures. They have a genuine chance of ending a 19-year title wait, resuming their campaign with a home date against Leeds on April 1.

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It’s a major mark-up for the Gunners this season, whose primary objective was to qualify for the Champions League. And with a 22-point cushion to fifth, Arsenal are as good as over the line.

But despite their excellent season, plans are already in place to make further chances to the Arsenal squad. And Arteta, along with sporting director Edu, are reportedly ready to axe seven players, including their club-record signing, in a busy summer of transfer activity.

That will give Arsenal both room in their squad and the funds needed to go on another spending spree. However, Arteta and Edu are likely to focus on quality rather than quantity this summer.

Indeed, his No 1 priority remains on strengthening his midfield. And despite the January addition of Jorginho, they are chasing another addition to their ranks.

And while they reportedly have interest in the likes of Martin Zubimendi and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, West Ham star Rice appears to be the No 1 target.

Indeed, that desire to sign him is fuelled by the player’s wish to quit the Hammers. Currently embroiled in a relegation battle, Rice has made clear his wish to play in the Champions League.

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Marco Verratti a massive fan of Declan Rice

“Yeah – one hundred per cent I want to play in the Champions League,” Rice said in December. “For the last two or three years I’ve been saying that.

“I’ve been playing consistently well for my club and I feel like I really want to keep pushing. I see my friends here [with England at the World Cup in Qatar], who are playing Champions League and competing for big trophies.

“You only get one career and at the end of it you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in. I really want to do that.”

Now with claims of a move to Arsenal growing stronger, PSG star Marco Verratti has given the Gunners a transfer push.

And the Italian is adamant that Rice has all the attributes needed to succeed with the Gunners were the move to come off.

“I really like him as a player,” Verratti said. “He provides great balance and shape to the team, and he’s got wonderful physical attributes.

“He really helps his team out a lot. He’s a No.6, a defensive midfielder that England really need.

“I’m sure that he will end up at a top side because I’ve played against him many times. He never gives up, he’s got a wonderful attitude, and he’s still very young so he’s got a huge room for improvement.”

Rice transfer on Arsenal agenda

As one of the best around over the past decade, Rice and Arsenal will certainly feel encouraged by Verratti’s comments.

And to prove his comments, Rice was the scorer of England’s 13th-minute opener as England beat Italy 2-1 on Thursday in their Euro 2024 qualifier.

Now talks of a move across London looks a genuine possibility this summer.

Rice’s deal at West Ham expires in summer 2024. However, West Ham will not be a pushover during negotiations. And they are keen to ensure he moves on for what will be a British record fee. That is currently set by Enzo Fernandez at Chelsea – and Arsenal may need to top that to snare the 24-year-old.

However, that is unlikely to deter them as Edu looks to build a squad capable of challenging for the Champions League.

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