Rice has long been the Gunners’ top summer target, but there had been a reluctance to meet the lofty valuation of the Europa Conference League winners, who are standing firm on their insistence that the 24-year-old will only be sold for in excess of £100m.
Arsenal have made a major breakthrough in their pursuit of Declan Rice after agreeing to pay West Ham more than £100m for the England midfielder, sources have told 90min.
But with rivals Chelsea and Bayern Munich circling, 90min understands that Arsenal have pushed ahead in their bid to land Rice and have told West Ham that they will pay more than £100m to take their captain to north London.
An official offer is yet to be made for Rice but if Arsenal finalise the deal, as they are now expected to do, the 24-year-old will become the most expensive English player of all-time, surpassing Manchester City’s deal for Jack Grealish and Real Madrid’s summer move for Jude Bellingham.
Rice was told by club captain David Sullivan that he is free to leave if the Hammers are suitably rewarded for his departure, and the chairman of West Ham has acknowledged that they intend to trade Rice this summer.
While clubs from all over Europe have been keeping an eye on the situation, Arsenal has taken the initiative by saying that it is willing to pay West Ham’s asking price, with Rice reportedly eager to transfer to the Emirates.
Just a short time ago, Arsenal achieved another significant advancement in contract negotiations with center-back William Saliba, which led to progress in the Rice negotiations.
Saliba’s current deal has just 12 months left to run and talk over an extension had been dragging on for nearly the entire season, but an agreement over a four-year deal has now been struck to hand Arsenal an enormous boost.