West Ham United confirmed on Saturday that midfielder Declan Rice would be leaving the club in a British-record transfer deal. Arsenal is widely speculated as his likely destination.
The specific team Declan Rice would join and the transfer fee was not disclosed in the statement released by West Ham. Instead, the club shared a message from Rice himself to the fans. Explaining that his decision was driven by his ambition to play at the highest level of the game.
Rice, 24, who spent nine years with West Ham, acknowledged that playing against his former club would be an unusual experience. But emphasised that his professional loyalties now lie with his new team.
Reports suggest that Arsenal will pay an initial fee of £100 million ($131 million) for Rice, with additional add-ons likely to be included in the deal. If confirmed, this figure matches the British-record sum that Manchester City paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish in 2021.
This move comes after another high-profile transfer of an England midfielder, Jude Bellingham, who joined Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund this offseason in a potential deal worth over $139 million.
For Arsenal, signing Rice would be a significant statement following their near miss for the Premier League title last season. Under the guidance of manager Mikel Arteta, the club has re-established itself as a force in English football.
Rice is expected to fill the midfield position vacated by Granit Xhaka, who recently joined Bayer Leverkusen. Known for his versatility as both a defensive midfielder and a box-to-box player. Rice’s presence in the Arsenal squad adds depth and flexibility as the team aims to build upon its second-place finish in the league last season. Only a late-season collapse prevented Arsenal from clinching their first league title since 2004.
A significant step in Arsenal
Furthermore, Arsenal’s return to the UEFA Champions League for the upcoming season for the first time since 2017. Further enhances their appeal to top-tier players like Rice.
The transfer of Rice marks another significant step in Arsenal’s progress under Arteta. Demonstrating their ability to attract highly sought-after talents with substantial transfer fees. The club has also made notable signings, including Germany forward Kai Havertz from Chelsea for a reported £65 million. In addition to Netherlands defender Jurrien Timber from Ajax for an initial fee of €40 million.
Rice’s final appearance for West Ham was in their victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final in June. Following that match, it became evident that the defensive midfielder would be leaving the club where he had been a part of the academy since 2014 after joining from Chelsea.
In his farewell message, Rice expressed his gratitude and deep connection to West Ham. Assuring fans that the club would always hold a special place in his heart.