Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have been dealt a huge blow in their pursuit of West Ham United skipper Declan Rice, according to reports.
Interest in the England international has surfaced in previous seasons with Rice being linked with a move away to a top Premier League club for several seasons now.
Chelsea have had long-standing interest in their former academy star, however nothing has come to fruition amid West Ham’s substantial asking price.
It has allowed others to come into the picture. Man City and Man Utd have been admirers, while Arsenal have grown more and more in confidence this season of winning the race and landing Rice due to their current position at the top of the Premier League.
And with his West Ham side currently positioned in 18th in the Premier League, and flirting with the possibility of relegation, a summer move for the club captain looks increasingly likely.
Now, as reported by Standard Sport, there is growing belief inside the Arsenal hierarchy that the opportunity to join Mikel Arteta’s side, makes the north London club a far more enticing prospect for the midfielder, than their rivals.
It was heavily reported that the league leaders were after a central midfielder in the January transfer window, with speculation circulating that a substantial bid was put in for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, a player Chelsea were also keen on.
However, with the Ecuadorian extending his stay at the Amex Stadium until 2027, attention has seemingly reverted back to Rice.
Arsenal are currently eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with 10 games remaining and look a shoe-in to win their first title since the 2003/04 season.
And with an evident emphasis on youth being their ethos , with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba all playing key roles in the Gunners’ campaign, a move to the Emirates may suit the 24-year-old to a tee.
Rice has been tipped to re-join Chelsea due to his time at the club at youth level, as well as his close relationship with Mason Mount, with reports of interest dating back to Frank Lampard’s managerial stint at Stamford Bridge from 2019 to 2021.
But with Chelsea out of the race for Champions League qualification via the league, and with Mount’s future in limbo, luring Rice back to Stamford Bridge may be a difficult task for the Blues.
This would mean that Chelsea, who are looking to bolster their midfield this summer, will likely have to steer their search elsewhere to plug an evident hole in their ever-growing squad.
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