Arsenal are ‘growing in confidence’ that the club can win the race to sign Declan Rice from West Ham this summer.
Rice has emerged as a top target for the Gunners ahead of the summer transfer window, but the north Londoners could face competition from Chelsea and Manchester United for the England midfielder.
The 24-year-old is expected to leave West Ham at the end of the season, when he will have just one year remaining on his contract at the London Stadium, with the option to extend for a further season.
He has turned down three contract offers from the Hammers, the most recent of which would have made him the club’s highest-paid player.
Rice discussed his desire to compete in the Champions League while on international duty with England at the World Cup in Qatar and the Times are reporting that Arsenal have made the signing of the midfielder a priority for the summer.
Rice is expected to cost in the region of £80m, but Arsenal are ‘growing in confidence’ that the club can beat Chelsea to his signing.
Arsenal eight points clear at the top of the Premier League and are on course to seal a Champions League return this season, while Chelsea are tenth in the division and ten points adrift of the top four.
Chelsea have long been viewed as favourites to sign Rice, with the midfielder having been an academy prospect at Stamford Bridge until the age of 14 and a boyhood fan of the club.
The west Londoners have also flexed their financial muscle under new owner Todd Boehly across the last six months, but Arsenal are prepared to make a significant push to sign Rice.
Mikel Arteta’s focus this month is the addition of winger to his squad, having missed out on the signings of Mykhaylo Mudryk and Joao Felix to Chelsea. The club’s summer focus will be on a midfielder and left-sided centre-back.