Declan Rice will be Arsenal’s ‘priority’ transfer target this summer, according to reports, with the Gunners ready to break their transfer record to sign West Ham’s in-demand midfielder.

The 24-year-old England international continues to be linked with a move away from the London Stadium.

In the past year or so, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City have all been rumoured to be interested in Rice, who has made 30 appearances for club and country this season.

But as rumours continue to swirl surrounding his future, Premier League leaders Arsenal appear to the most serious over a potential deal – and they are willing to splash £80 million to acquire his services.

That’s according to The Daily Mail, who claim Arsenal will go ‘head-to-head’ with Chelsea for Rice’s signature, although West Ham are said to value the player at £100 million.

Arsenal chiefs are, however, confident of their chances as they prepare to potentially break their transfer record of £72 million – the amount they paid for Nicolas Pepe in 2019 from French outfit Lille.

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy believes Rice would be the “perfect” signing for the Premier League leaders.

“I think that would be a huge, huge move for Arsenal,” he told talkSPORT.

“You’re not just getting a wonderful midfielder who would be there for the rest of his career maybe if they carry on, you’re also getting an English one who fans can relate to, they know he can do it in the Premier League.”

Image credit: AlamyMurphy added: “He’s going to get better and I think he’ll get more of a platform to score goals. I think that would be the perfect type for Arsenal because they are heavily reliant on Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka.”

Rice, meanwhile, opened up on his desire to play Champions League football during the World Cup in Qatar.

“I see my friends who play in the Champions League, winning the big trophies,” he said ahead of England’s clash against Senegal.

“You only get one career and at the end of your career you want to look at what you’ve won.”

The Gunners are keen to add strength in depth to their squad in the coming months. They missed out on Mykhailo Mudryk, who signed for Chelsea last week in a reported £88 million.

But Arteta didn’t seem too disheartened by their failure to capture the Ukrainian forward in his post-match interview.

In his post match press conference after West Ham’s defeat to Arsenal on Boxing Day, Rice was quick to praise the Premier League front runners.

“I think they’re a top team, you can see they’re coached incredibly well, the attacking talent, it’s a young squad, they could go the whole way for sure. They’re a good team,” he said.

“We tried to stop them first half but it’s really hard. In the end, we come up short and it’s frustrating.”

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