Arsenal reportedly fear history repeating itself and will end up having to concede defeat in the race to sign West Ham skipper Declan Rice.
The England midfielder has been earmarked as Arsenal’s No.1 transfer target this summer with Mikel Arteta keen to oversee an overhaul of his midfield.
The Gunners gave indication of their plans in January when they made a club-record bid for Moises Caicedo but, after Brighton refused to sanction the 21-year-old’s exit, instead settled for Jorginho.
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Arteta remains interested in the Ecuador international but Rice is the main priority and has been identified as Granit Xhaka’s successor with the Switzerland international contemplating a return to the Bundesliga.
Competition to sign the 24-year-old midfielder will be intense and although Rice is reported to be keen on a move to north London, Chelsea, Liverpool and both Manchester teams are monitoring the situation.
With the Premier League elite all in the market for midfielders, the Hammers are counting on a bidding war and will only entertain offers more than £100million.
Reports this week claimed Arsenal only valued Rice at £70m and, as such, the north London side are concerned history will repeat itself.
Chelsea blew their rivals out of the water in the January transfer window when they hijacked Arsenal’s move for Mykhailo Mudryk and are positioning themselves to do the same where Rice is concerned, according to The Sun.
And, that is a fear shared by former Arsenal defender Martin Keown who believes Rice will end up being too expensive for the Gunners to afford.
‘I think Declan Rice is going to be too expensive for Arsenal, quite frankly,’ Keown told talkSPORT.
‘I think he will be too expensive for Liverpool as well who have been in the Champions League now for a number of years.
‘He’s a player Arsenal will like but not with those costs involved, I think it’s too much. Looking at Arsenal’s business, I don’t think it’s a route they will go down.
‘I don’t think they’ve got the money, even though the Champions League will bring some more revenue. I don’t see him as a player Arsenal can afford to buy.’