Declan Rice to Arsenal: West Ham put transfer talks on hold in blow to Mikel Arteta plans
West Ham will delay talks over Declan Rice’s future until after a possible European final, as Arsenal prepare to ramp up their pursuit of the midfielder.
Rice is widely expected to leave the Hamers this summer, with the Gunners favourites to sign the England international having identified him as their No1 target.
Arsenal are keen to do their business early in the window, with Mikel Arteta looking to rebuild momentum after the club’s title challenge petered out in the final weeks of the campaign.
It follows the success of last summer, when all of Arsenal’s signings, including major deals for Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, were completed before August, contributing to the club’s fast start to the campaign.
However, West Ham travel to AZ Alkmaar for the second leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final on Thursday leading the tie 2-1 and, should they see off the Dutch side, will extend their season until the Prague final on June 7.
Beyond that, Rice could be in action for England in Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia, the latter of which is not until June 19.
Both West Ham and Rice are keen to focus on what could yet be an historic end to the club season before dealing with any transfer, though there has been a growing public acknowledgement in recent weeks that the 24-year-old is playing his final games in claret and blue.
However, the Hammers are intending to drive a hard bargain, with an initial valuation of about £120million.
Arsenal are hoping to seal a deal for under £100m, with Arteta needing to bolster other areas of his squad as he prepares for his side’s return to the Champions League, with Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo still a target after a failed January move.
Interest from rival clubs, including Manchester United, could create an obstacle, while the Hammers will point to the fee commanded by Jude Bellingham as a benchmark should Rice’s England midfield partner be sold first by Borussia Dortmund.