Declan Rice is emerging as Arsenal’s priority transfer target this summer with Mikel Arteta prepared to break the club’s transfer record to sign the England international.
West Ham captain Rice is set to leave the London Stadium this summer, with the Hammers wanting a deal worth £100million – though there looks little hope of the east London club receiving that fee.
Chelsea, who recently beat the Gunners to the signing of Shakhtar Donetsk forward Mykhailo Mudryk, were thought to be in pole position to sign Rice this summer.
However, the Gunners and Chelsea will once again go head-to-head for a high-profile player this summer as they battle it out to sign Rice.
Sources have indicated to Sportsmail that Arsenal believe they are well placed to beat their London rivals to Rice’s signature this summer.
Rice has continued to speak of his desire to play Champions League football. Arsenal, barring a total capitulation of their season, will regain their Champions League status.
As it stands, Chelsea are struggling to finish in the top four; they are currently 10th and 10 points adrift of the Champions League places.
Arsenal’s transfer record stands at £72million, the sum the paid to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille in 2019.
The north London outfit currently lead the Premier League by eight points having only lost once and drawn twice in their 18 games so far this season.
Rice, 24, has established himself as one of the Premier League’s foremost players at West Ham and is a key part of Gareth Southgate’s England set up.
While at the World Cup, Rice spoke openly of his desire to play at the top level in the game, making the point that you only get ‘one’ career.
‘I see my friends who play in the Champions League, winning the big trophies,’ he said prior to England’s last-16 tie with Senegal.
‘You only get one career and at the end of your career you want to look at what you’ve won.’
Having turned down a number of contract offers, expectation at West Ham is that he will leave this summer with his current deal only running until 2024.
It was reported that interest in the midfielder last summer cooled as a result of West Ham demanding close to £150m for the player. Manchester United, for one, had enquired over his availability.