Manchester City are expected to make an opening bid for West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice on Thursday.
The England international is due to complete his 10-year connection with the Europa Conference League champions this summer, with a free move available in 2024.
West Ham have previously priced interested parties out of a deal for their captain, but co-chairman David Sullivan has indicated that he will be free to go this summer for the correct price.
For the previous few months, Arsenal have been considered the frontrunner to capture Rice, who is said to have informed West Ham that the Emirates Stadium is his preferred transfer destination.
Rice would be able to pursue his Champions League ambitions in North London, but Arsenal has so far been unwilling to pay West Ham’s asking price, with two proposals rejected.
The Gunners’ latest bid was thought to be in the region of £90 million, with a £75 million upfront price and £15 million in add-ons, but West Ham want as much as £100 million and possibly as much as £120 million to authorise a deal.
Manchester City could sign Rice as a replacement for Ilkay Gundogan
West Ham’s asking price isn’t the only issue Arsenal is facing right now, as The Athletic reports that Manchester City will approach the Hammers with an opening offer in the coming hours.
The Premier League and European champions have been monitoring Rice’s status with the uncertainty surrounding Ilkay Gundogan’s predicament, and the Germany international is now expected to join Barcelona when his contract at Etihad expires at the end of the month.
Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea is set to arrive in a £30 million transfer to bolster Pep Guardiola’s midfield, but a big-money move for Rice is also a possibility.
However, Arsenal remain confident that they will win the fight for the former Chelsea player, and the Gunners are poised to submit a third proposal in the aim of reaching an agreement.
Rice left Chelsea’s academy in 2013 to join West Ham, and the Blues have been rumoured to bring him back to Stamford Bridge, although they are not understood to be actively seeking a deal as they focus on outgoings.
Meanwhile, Manchester United is prioritising the acquisition of a new striker or custodian before focusing on midfield targets, and the slow-moving takeover process is also hampering their chances of success in the transfer market.
Rice has now appeared for West Ham on 245 occasions since breaking into the first-team squad, scoring 15 goals and assisting on 13 more.
Last season, the Hammers captain scored five goals and provided four assists in 50 games, leading David Moyes’ side to Europa League triumph and Premier League survival.
While Arsenal’s pursuit of Rice has been thwarted, the Gunners are believed to have struck a deal in principle to sign Chelsea’s Kai Havertz, who Mikel Arteta could use in a midfield role.
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