"Arsenal are the frontrunners, for sure" - Journalist claims Gunners are leading the race to sign highly-rated Manchester United target

Arsenal leading the race to sign 24-year-old Manchester United target.
Arsenal leading the race to sign 24-year-old Manchester United target.

Arsenal are reportedly the frontrunners to seal a move for Manchester United target and West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice this summer.

The England international will enter the final year of his contract at the London Stadium next month. The Hammers are believed to be asking for a fee upwards of £100 million.

However, according to journalist Ben Jacobs (h/t The Boot Room), Arsenal want that figure to drop below the nine-digit mark:

"I think Arsenal are the frontrunners, for sure, because Rice would like to stay in London. The initial offer that Arsenal are preparing is for below £100m.

Jacobs added:

"In the end it won’t be as much about the number as the structure. If it’s £100m, Arsenal will lean towards it being made through add-ons and bonuses, but if it’s under £100m, which is the expectation from Arsenal and other suitors, then Arsenal may have to pay more up front."

Manchester United have been linked with a move for Rice and could reportedly make a late move for him. However, it seems that Mikel Arteta's side are leading the race to secure the Englishman's signature.

Arsenal are expected to lose Granit Xhaka this summer to Bayer Leverkusen, while Thomas Partey and Jorginho could use some competition in the starting XI. Rice, 24, is predominantly a defensive midfielder and can also double up as a centre-back.

The West Ham captain also boasts an impressive fitness record and hasn't played less than 32 league games in a season since the 2018-19 campaign.

Aguero backs Manchester United and Arsenal to challenge for league next season

Arsenal looked good to win the Premier League for large swathes of the season before Manchester City made a late push for the title.

The Gunners eventually finished second - nine points ahead of third-placed Manchester United. The Cityzens, meanwhile, have won five league titles in the last six seasons.

Despite their supreme domestic dominance, Sergio Aguero expects his former club to be challenged for the league title by Arsenal and Manchester United next season.

The former Barcelona forward wrote in his column for Stake (via Metro):

"I think that Arsenal has established a very important base of young players with a long way to go. Mikel Arteta will try to reinforce his lines and will be one of the rivals to beat next season. We must not forget about Manchester United either, who have returned to their competitive spirit and will be one of those who most want to defeat City."

The Red Devils last won the league title in the 2012-13 season, while Arsenal's last triumph in the competition came 19 years ago.

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Edited by Aniket Rai