Arsenal remain confident of signing Declan Rice this summer and believe club hero Jack Wilshere will convince the West Ham star to join the Gunners over Chelsea and Manchester United.
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While Arsenal have their sights set on a first Premier League title since 2004, Mikel Arteta is already making plans for this summer’s transfer window and wants at least four new players to arrive at the Emirates.
Arteta is keen to bolster his squad ahead of Arsenal’s return to the Champions League next season, with at least one central midfielder expected to be signed.
Arsenal submitted several unsuccessful bids for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo in January and will consider reviving their interest in the Ecuador international at the end of the season.
West Ham and England star Rice is Arsenal’s top target, however, and the Gunners are ready to spend around £80m to bring the 24-year-old to north London.
Rice will almost certainly leave West Ham at the end of the season, having rejected multiple offers to extend his contract, and is also attracting interest from Chelsea and Manchester United.
Chelsea first expressed interest in signing Rice – who was in the Stamford Bridge academy before being released at the age of 15 – when Frank Lampard was in charge.
The Blues, who have endured a dismal season under Graham Potter, are looking for a replacement for Jorginho and a successor to N’Golo Kante, despite spending more than £100m on fellow midfielder Enzo Fernandez in January.
Manchester United could also make a move for Rice despite signing five-time Champions League winner Casemiro from Real Madrid last summer.
Arsenal are not overly concerned by Chelsea and Man United’s interest in the West Ham captain, however, and believe Rice’s relationship with ex-Gunners star Wilshere puts them in a strong position.
Wilshere and Rice grew close while the former was at West Ham towards the end of his career and remain friends, with Arsenal of the belief that Wilshere could now help his ex-club in the transfer market, according to the Daily Mail.
Former England midfielder Wilshere spent almost two decades at Arsenal – first as an academy star and then a first-team regular – and still works at the Emirates as head coach of the U18 side.
West Ham impressed last season – briefly challenging for the top-four and reaching the Europa League semi-final – but have won just six of their 24 league games this term to get dragged into a relegation battle.
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