Declan Rice Joins from West Ham for Club Record Fee

Arsenal have confirmed the signing of West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice on a long-term contract. The transfer fee paid for the player, £105m (£100m upfront with £5m in incentives), eclipses the club’s previous record signing of £72m, which they paid back in 2019 for Lille’s Nicolas Pépé. Rice has signed on a five-year contract with the option for a sixth, for a reported wage of £250,000-a-week. Special dispensation has been granted to Rice to allow him to wear the number 41 shirt that he previously wore at West Ham, as Arsenal do not usually allow senior players to have such nigher numbers, preferring to reserve these for youth players.

Arsenal’s interest in Rice has been heavily documented. News of the club’s interest broke back in January, when the club reportedly began exploring the possibility of signing the West Ham captain. At the time, Arsenal considered the move as unfeasible, as West Ham were not open to selling mid-season. 

Though Arsenal did sign Jorginho from Chelsea, Rice always remained a part of the club’s plans moving forward. The two teams remained in dialogue for several months, with Rice himself reportedly telling friends and family that he would be playing for Arsenal next season.

An initial proposal was made to West Ham midway through June, which was rejected by the club. The initial bid, which supposedly totalled £70m + a further £10m in add-ons, was then followed up by a further bid of £75m + £15m, which was also rejected.

West Ham had banked on a bidding war. A bid was also lodged by treble winners Manchester City, who submitted an £80m + £10m package, which was also considered to be too derisory by West Ham. Eventually, City pulled out of the race after Arsenal’s £100m + £5m was accepted.

Though the season ended back in May, Arsenal pledged to wait before submitting an opening bid. West Ham’s participation in the 2023 UEFA Europa Conference League final was the main factor in the decision. Not wanting to distract Rice from the final, or wanting to disrupt the team’s preparations for the final, Arsenal pledged to wait until the final was over before bidding. 

This approach was reportedly greatly appreciated by both club and player. That Rice’s final appearance for the club was captaining the team to their first European silverware since 1999 will have meant a lot to him.

Rice was initially a part of the Chelsea academy. Eventually, Rice was released by the club. At the age of 14, Rice joined the team’s cross-town rivals West Ham, where he established himself in the youth academy of the club and eventually earned a call-up to the senior side. 

From there, he has established himself as one of the top midfielders in Europe. His performances for West Ham soon saw him given the captain’s armband – a historic achievement for one so young.

Rice’s performances over the years have caught the eyes of many. Former-academy club Chelsea had previously looked to add him to their squad under then-manager Frank Lampard, however, a deal never materialised.

Rice is Arsenal’s second signing of the summer and is also a statement of intent for the forthcoming season. £105m is a big fee for a club such as Arsenal to pay for a player and is a clear indication of the quality the club believes he has, how the club wishes to progress this season after re-qualifying for the UEFA Champions League and how they wish to muster yet another assault on the Premier League title.

Rice is Arsenal’s third signing of the summer, following the announcements of Kai Havertz from Chelsea and Ajax defender Jurriën Timber, while Granit Xhaka has also departed for Bayer Leverkusen.

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