By Daniel Feliciano

16th Jan, 2023 | 6:10pm

Arsenal make Declan Rice priority signing in £80m transfer from West Ham United this summer

Arsenal have made Declan Rice their priority transfer target for the summer transfer window in a potential £80m move from West Ham, say The Times.

It is widely expected that the Hammers captain will leave the club this summer after strong interest in recent years from the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

But with Rice now keen to leave for Champions League football, Arsenal have made him their priority and are confident of beating previous frontrunners Chelsea to his signature with their position as league leaders currently a big factor.

“Arsenal have made Declan Rice their top target this summer and are growing in confidence that they can beat Chelsea to the England midfielder’s signature,” they wrote (16 January).

“Rice, 24, is set to be at the centre of a bidding war, which could also include Manchester United, at the end of the season but Arsenal believe that their status as Premier League leaders puts them in a strong position.”

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Everyone seems to want Rice, and it’s absolutely no surprise whatsoever.

With the player himself being open about a potential exit in the future, and the fact he’s entering the final two years of his contract, the £150m that we had been demanding in recent years is impossible to get now.

That was always a risk the club was obviously willing to take, and it now seems to be the consensus that West Ham will accept between £70-80m for the 23-year-old England international.

That amount is still huge for West Ham, but it could get even worse if this season doesn’t improve quickly with relegation becoming a genuine threat with each passing poor result.

If we drop into the Championship then that price could drop even further and leave us in an awful negotiating position.

Rice is going to leave, that much is evident, but now the biggest question is going to be where he ends up rather than how much or if he leaves.