Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke is reportedly willing to fork out a club-record fee to sign West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice this summer.
The 24-year-old is expected to leave the London Stadium at the end of the season, with manager David Moyes admitting that there is a “good chance” that he will seek pastures new.
A host of top Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City have all been credited with an interest in Rice, as have German giants Bayern Munich.
However, the Gunners are believed to be the frontrunners for the midfielder’s signature, with manager Mikel Arteta identifying the England international as one of his primary targets ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.
A recent report claims that Arsenal are readying their first big-money bid for Rice, although they do not intend to approach West Ham until the season draws to a close.
Rice is out of contract at the London Stadium at the end of next season, with West Ham possessing the option to extend his deal by a further 12 months, and the East Londoners are said to be holding out for a fee of at least £100m to sanction the sale of their star asset.
According to The Express, West Ham are playing hardball with Arsenal over the sale of Rice and have referenced the British record signing of Enzo Fernandez at Chelsea, who spend around £107.5m on the midfielder in January, as a gauge to their valuation of Rice.
However, the report adds that Arsenal owner Kroenke is lining up a £92m transfer package to recruit Rice, with the American prepared to pay the majority of the club-record fee upfront.
Should the Gunners reach an agreement with the Hammers over a deal for Rice, sporting director Edu would then be tasked with negotiating personal terms with the Englishman, with a five-year deal worth £300,000 per week said to be on the table.