DECLAN RICE has been identified as Arsenal’s top summer transfer target, reports suggest.
West Ham star Rice is entering the final year of his contract at the London Stadium this summer – though has an optional extra year – and with their recent struggles, Rice may finally opt to jump ship.
This summer is set to see a bidding war for the Englishman, which could see him eventually leave for £80million.
However, according to The Times, Arsenal believe they are in the strong position to sign Rice because they are the Premier League leaders.
The report indicates the Gunners remain keen on a new midfielder, and consequently have made Rice their priority.
Rice fits the mould of player targeted by Mikel Arteta in recent windows.
He is young, aggressive, and has a burning desire to play in the Champions League – something Arsenal look all but certain to be able to offer next season.
This January, Arsenal did prioritise signing a new winger, but saw their hard work to acquire Mykhailo Mudryk fail after Chelsea threw at colossal package at the Ukrainian.
They have been long-term favourites to sign Rice due to him supporting the club and being best friends with Mason Mount, as well as being a former member of their academy.
Meanwhile, Man Utd were put off a deal for Rice last summer due to being quoted a price tag of £150m.
But with this now almost halved, Rice’s decision could depend on who has the best footballing project available.
The Gunners sit eight points clear at the top of table following their victory in the North London derby – a game where they cruised to victory.
However, while the likes of Paul Merson believe the title is now “Arsenal’s to throw away,” defeat against Man Utd next weekend could see both Utd and Man City within touching distance if both secure positive results in midweek clashes with Crystal Palace and Tottenham respectively.