West Ham resigned to losing Arsenal target Declan Rice but will demand transfer fee over £100m

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

West Ham are resigned to losing Declan Rice this summer but intend to hold firm on a price-tag of well over £100million, amid growing interest from Arsenal.

The Premier League leaders have made Rice their No1 target for the summer window, with the midfielder understood to be open to the move.

The 24-year-old’s West Ham contract runs until the end of next season, although the club have an option of a year extension beyond that.

The England international has rejected several offers of a new deal that would have made him the best-paid player at the London Stadium and West Ham have privately accepted that they will have to sell at the end of the campaign or else risk missing out on a major windfall on a player who joined their academy as a 14-year-old after being released by Chelsea.

It is set to be a busy window for high-profile midfield deals and West Ham’s valuation of Rice lines up with the fees likely to be commanded by contemporaries Enzo Fernandez and Jude Bellingham.

Bellingham, who partnered Rice in midfield for England at the World Cup in Qatar, is a leading target for Liverpool and Real Madrid, with Borussia Dortmund expected to want more than £100m for his services.

Portuguese side Benfica, meanwhile, are demanding that potential suitors meet World Cup winner Fernandez’s £105m buy-out clause.

Rice spoke publicly during the World Cup of his desire to play Champions League football.

“I see my friends here [at England] who are playing in the Champions League and for big trophies,” he said. “You only get one career and at the end of your career, you want to look back at what you have won and the biggest games you have played in. I am really ambitious.”

In the past two seasons, West Ham have at least been able to offer some level of European football, with the intention to kick on and push for Champions League qualification after a £170m summer spend.

However, David Moyes’ side look highly unlikely to be playing in any Uefa competition next term unless they win this season's Europa Conference League, and the Hammers’ lowly Premier League position has weakened their hand in negotiations.

Rice has been linked with the Premier League’s leading sides for several years now but it remains to be seen how many clubs act on their long-standing interest.

Chelsea, previously seen as favourites, have cooled their interest as they focus on Fernandez and Brighton’s Moises Caicedo. Manchester United’s need for a holding midfield player has lessened following the signing of Casemiro from Real Madrid last summer, while Manchester City brought in Kalvin Phillips as back-up to Rodri, though the former Leeds man has played only a minor role.

Rice appeared beyond Arsenal’s reach but with the Gunners top of the division and heading for a Champions League return, the club are hoping to raise their sights.

Mikel Arteta has made signing a central midfielder, along with a left-sided centre-back, his priority for the summer window, with this month focused on bringing in a winger after missing out on Mykhailo Mudryk to Chelsea.