Arsenal are reportedly on the brink of completing a £105million transfer for Declan Rice, who is their number one transfer target.
Rice has always been clear that he would prefer a move to the Emirates, over a move to Manchester City, who have since pulled out of the bidding.
The 24-year-old will become the focal point of Arsenal’s midfield when he arrives at London Colney in the coming weeks.
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While Granit Xhaka is expected to join Bayer Leverkusen and Thomas Partey is potentially off to Juventus, making the way for Rice to bolster the midfield.
He will move beyond the £72m paid for Nicolas Pepe to become the club’s record arrival and a transfer of this significance would see the player take a major squad number.
But, Rice has always worn the No. 41 shirt for West Ham United and has grown attached to it over the years.
Speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap, Rice said: “It was just a number I was given in the academy by the kitman, Jamo. When you’re in the U23s, you’ve obviously got the first-team squad numbers and then it starts to get to the higher numbers when you’re in the U23s.
“I remember when I went to Seattle on my first trip with the first team, I just got given 41 and you know what, it’s stayed with me since. To be honest with you, I’ve been having this conversation with my Dad: regardless of what happens in my career, I think I might stay with the 41.
“‘Rice 41’ has a nice ring to it and I’ve grown up playing in it. I’m a bit superstitious with things like that. I don’t know whether if I change to a new number, it would hamper my performances! I don’t know! I just think sometimes about a couple of things like that.”
When asked what he would choose if he had to pick one from the first 11, he said: “Either four or six.”
Both of those numbers are now occupied at Arsenal, with Ben White wearing No.4 – the number Rice has worn often for England – and Gabriel Magalhaes No.6, He could take No.5 if Partey leaves for Juventus, or Saudi Arabia.
Number 41 is the number of Arsenal youngster Mauro Bandeira, who could be forced to change in the event Rice wants to stick with his West Ham number.
Rice is expected to become the second summer signing at the Emirates, after Chelsea’s Kai Havertz, who joined this week for £65m.