Arsenal ‘close in’ on £100m Rice as Chelsea ‘open talks’ with £45m alternative

Arsenal have ‘climbed into a very strong position to complete a deal’ for Declan Rice – they’re ‘closing in’ on the England international.

Rice has been linked with a move away from West Ham for some time, with Chelsea thought to be most interested for the last couple of seasons.

But the Blues’ lavish spending this term, combined with Arsenal’s excellence, has put the Gunners as the clear frontrunners for his signature.

And now Football Insider claim Arsenal are ‘closing in’ on a £100m move for Rice; they’re ‘confident’ of getting the deal done.

A report last month claimed Rice is ‘a particular admirer of how Arsenal play, seeing that as one of the best approaches in European football right now’ and has ‘raved about them while watching them with the rest of the West Ham squad’.

The 24-year-old will also have been buoyed by Arteta having a ‘clear plan’ for him, with the Arsneal boss wanting to mimic mentor Pep Guardiola by ‘evolving the attack’ next season.

The report adds: ‘Arteta will not seek to attack or build up play in exactly the same way as he has done in this campaign, and he has one vision for the team where Rice’s abilities – especially his capacity for suddenly surging forward – can be a key part of that. He is also the sort of personality that Arsenal want.’

Chelsea instead want to sign Romeo Lavia this summer, with Football Insider claiming they’re ‘in talks’ with the 19-year-old and have been for the last two months.

Lavia, whom Chelsea tried to poach from Southampton on deadline day for £50m, weeks after he moved from Manchester City for £11m, has a £45m release clause which will become active in the summer of 2024.

City at that point will hold the first option to buy him back so Chelsea are trying to secure the deal this summer to avoid missing out.

It’s thought offering the same amount as the release clause will be enough to persuade Southampton – who are staring relegation in the face – into selling Lavia as they won’t receive a higher fee in a year’s time.

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