Kai Havertz

Arsenal agree £105 million Declan Rice deal after Manchester City pull out – The Guardian

Arsenal have agreed in principle with West Ham to sign Declan Rice for £105 million after Manchester City pulled out of the midfielder’s race.

Arsenal made a third offer of £100 million plus £5 million in add-ons on Tuesday night and only minor issues regarding the structure of the deal were yet to be finalized by Wednesday night. City had turned down a £90 million offer earlier on Tuesday and did not want to go as high as Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola had identified Rice as a replacement for Ilkay Gundogan after the German midfielder moved to Barcelona on a free transfer. Insiders at West Ham had expected City to make an improved bid for Rice on Wednesday morning.

West Ham have committed at least £100 million and used City’s interest to push up the price for their captain. The England international’s fee comes on top of the £100 million City paid two years ago to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa and makes Rice the most expensive British player. Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich had also looked at signing Rice, but Arsenal have been at the front of the line since Christmas.

Arsenal had turned down an offer of £75 million plus £15 million in add-ons last week, with West Ham unhappy about the proposal to spread the guaranteed portion of the payment over five years. The size of Arsenal’s offer is acceptable to West Ham, who used Jude Bellingham’s move to Real Madrid for an initial £88.5 million as a guideline during negotiations.

City’s bid put Arsenal at risk of missing out on Mikel Arteta’s top goal. Still, the message from well-placed sources has been consistent that Rice wants to join Arsenal. The 24-year-old preferred to stay in London – he recently became a father and is very attached to his family – and will have no problem finalizing the terms of a long-term deal with Arsenal.

Arteta has made it clear to Rice where he will fit into his team and has plans to build his midfield around the player and Kai Havertz, who has signed from Chelsea for £65m. Havertz played as No. 9 for Chelsea but will be used in a deeper role for Arsenal. Arteta is also close to signing a £50 million deal for Ajax defender Jurriën Timber and wants Southampton midfielder Roméo Lavia.

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Spending big money as they look for another title challenge, Arsenal could make room for Rice by selling Granit Xhaka to Bayer Leverkusen and Thomas Partey to Juventus.

Rice’s last game for West Ham was this month’s Europa Conference League victory over Fiorentina. West Ham have accepted his wish to leave and compete at a higher level. Rice joined after being released by Chelsea aged 14 and has become one of the best players in their history. Known for his prowess as a defensive midfielder, Rice is hoping to develop the attacking side in his game at Arsenal.

West Ham will replace Rice with two central midfielders – there is interest in João Palhinha from Fulham, Denis Zakaria from Juventus, Amadou Onana from Everton and James Ward-Prowse from Southampton – and also want a centre-back. They will compete with Newcastle, Aston Villa and Tottenham for Leicester winger Harvey Barnes.

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