- Gunners linked with Hammers star
- England ace wants to test himself
- Big-money moved speculated on
WHAT HAPPENED? The Premier League leaders have been linked with England international Rice for some time, with the expectation being that the 24-year-old will soon sever ties with the Hammers in order to find Champions League football. Manchester United and Chelsea have also been credited with interest at various intervals, with a big-money move said to be on the cards. However, Wilshere believes Arsenal should be leading the chase for the player who would slot seamlessly into Mikel Arteta’s ranks at Emirates Stadium.
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WHAT THEY SAID: The former Gunners star has told PA Sport of the race for Rice: “He’s a midfielder who can do anything. Anyone who supports any club would want Dec to join. If I’m talking from a selfish point of view, in north London, I think he would be very good under Mikel’s watch. Mikel would develop him, bring him on even more and he would be massive for the team as well. I have had conversations with Dec and told him what he is doing in unbelievable, he is captain of a big Premier League club and is always learning.
“You have to be respectful to West Ham, that is his club, but his future is in his hands and it’s very exciting for him because he’s got everything with him now and he’s picking up more and more, he’s growing into this man who could play anywhere. I’m looking forward to wherever he goes. I hope it is Arsenal, it would be a massive signing and a perfect fit.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: West Ham have made it clear that any deal for Rice will not come cheap, but Arsenal need to start competing with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in the spending stakes if they are to improve their squad while also adding the depth required to compete for major honours on multiple fronts.
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WHAT NEXT? Rice is currently tied to a contract at the London Stadium through to 2024, with a 12-month extension option included in that deal, but he has made no secret of his desire to test himself at the very highest level and may decide that the summer of 2023 is the ideal time in which to push for a move elsewhere.