Mikel Arteta will closely observe the Europa Conference League final tonight as it presents a final opportunity to assess transfer target Declan Rice, writes the Football.London.
West Ham has traveled to Prague to face Italian side Fiorentina, and supporters are hopeful that the club can secure their first major trophy since 1980. If West Ham emerges victorious in the Czech capital, it is likely that Rice, who is being pursued by Arsenal, will have played a significant role.
The 24-year-old has made a strong impression in his performances for West Ham this season, featuring in 49 matches across all competitions and contributing to nine goals. The Europa Conference League final will mark his 50th appearance for West Ham this campaign, and it could potentially be his last for the club if Arsenal has their way.
According to Football.london, Rice is the top priority target for Arsenal this summer, with both Mikel Arteta and Edu expressing great admiration for the central midfielder. It is speculated that Rice could be one of two midfield signings during the transfer window, as Granit Xhaka is expected to depart for Bayer Leverkusen in a £13 million deal.
Arsenal’s sporting director, Edu, recognizes the need for investment this summer to build upon the successes of the impressive 2022/23 campaign.
He told ESPN Brasil: “We need to identify how we can improve. If we have to improve specific, individual positions, individuals, final turn, midfielders, our defence. We already know what it is because our style of play with Mikel Arteta is very clear. When you see Arsenal play now, you know it’s our style.
“Now we have to understand how to enhance our athletes so the team can improve and reach a new level in terms of performance. I think there is a level above. Mikel and I talked, and we believe we can raise our performance to a new level. Now we have to do good work in the transfer window, we have to understand what we need, get the right athletes, the right traits, and the right athlete mentality so we can raise our squad’s level again.”
It is believed that Arsenal is planning to wait until after West Ham’s participation in the Europa League Conference final before submitting a bid for Rice, as a gesture of respect. However, they are confident about reaching a deal despite competition from Bayern Munich and Manchester United. Additionally, the Gunners are still keeping an eye on Moises Caicedo and Mason Mount.
As West Ham’s captain, Rice is currently busy preparing for one of the most significant matches of his career as they face Fiorentina tonight. On Tuesday, he was seen exploring the Fortuna Arena alongside his teammates from the Hammers. The midfielder took to Instagram to share two pictures of himself in a focused state inside the stadium, accompanied by the caption: “Go time West Ham.”