Arsenal and Manchester City are set to battle it out for the signature of Declan Rice, with both clubs making the playmaker their priority this summer.

Arsenal may hold the edge over Manchester City if Declan Rice is offered the opportunity to decide where his future lies. Both clubs are desperate to acquire the services of the midfielder, with West Ham resigned to losing the services of the playmaker and agreeing to facilitate his exit.

The Gunners were previously in pole position to sign Rice after completing a significant chunk of groundwork towards the very latter stages of the campaign. Mikel Arteta had persuaded the midfielder that a move to the Emirates Stadium was the right step in his career.

However, despite that, Arsenal have insisted on trying to strike a deal with West Ham for a reduced fee in instalments – with both bids being rejected without hesitation. The delay has opened the door open for City to pursue their target after Ilkay Gundogan opted to join Barcelona, and now the two clubs look set to battle it out for the 24-year-old.

According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal hold two advantages in the race to sign Rice due to squad depth and his leadership qualities. The England international would slot straight into the heart of Arteta’s team, replacing Bayer Leverkusen-bound Granit Xhaka, and is likely to be one of the first names on the team sheet in London.

In contrast, City’s squad depth in all departments continues to bewilder their opponents, and a quick glance at Kalvin Phillips’ stats last season would show that Rice is not guaranteed a place in Pep Guardiola’s starting eleven simply because he is a summer signing. Gundogan’s departure provides options for the ex-Barcelona boss, though the likes of Phillips and Phil Foden will both believe they have different attributes to offer in the role.

Guardiola is also attracted to the leadership qualities of Rice, though City aren’t short of voices in their dressing room despite captain Gundogan’s departure. Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and Ruben Dias are all candidates to step up next season given their experience at the very top level.

English duo Kyle Walker and John Stones have also worked their way through the club hierarchy at the Etihad Stadium and will feel that they warrant consideration too. Rice may be forced to wait until considerably further down the line when he is handed extra responsibilities at City.

 

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