Arsenal are ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea in the race to sign highly-rated West Ham midfielder Declan Rice thanks to their manager Mikel Arteta.
The England midfielder is one of the most sought-after players in his position in the league after starring for West Ham last season and England in the World Cup. He has been linked with a return to his boyhood club Chelsea while Manchester United have also been linked to his signature.
However, according to a new report by the Evening Standard, Rice will likely end up at the Emirates Stadium this summer rather than Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford because of his preference for Arteta and his project in North London.
The Spanish boss has transformed Arsenal from also-rans to title contenders, with his flair for developing young talents the attraction for Rice.
Per the report, the midfielder is a prime transfer target for Arsenal, and the club is expected to back Arteta again in the coming window. Tactically, the 24-year-old would plug a crucial gap in Arsenal’s midfield, either in a holding role or slightly further forward as a No.8.
Beyond his footballing qualities, Arteta is thought to be a big admirer of Rice’s work ethic and leadership qualities, with Rice West Ham’s captain following the retirement of Mark Noble last season.
At 24, he also fits Arsenal’s current recruitment model, which is centred around signing young talented players who will remain at the top of their game for several years.
But the price West Ham want for the player could be a significant stumbling block for a potential move to the Emirates. The Hammers know that they cannot keep Rice for longer, but they will reportedly try and ask for up to £150 million ($185m) for him.
Given their deep pockets, Manchester United and Chelsea could pay the sum demanded by West Ham. Still, the Blues will need help convincing the player to sign, given that they are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League next season.