After interminable months of flirtations, insinuations, and actual negotiations, Arsenal seem no closer to signing Declan Rice than we were back in January. Yes, “personal terms” have been agreed, but that doesn’t mean much when the player is under contract to a club whose prerogative is to extract the highest possible fee. Here’s what we’ve got. The Man City corporation, in conjunction with Sheikh Mansour, under the oblivion of the FA, are forcing West Ham to sell them Declan.Rice in a fiendish plot to eliminate the threat of domestic competition. We’re through the looking glass, here, people…
Soz. Can’t resist the urge to reference the Simpons, and this one went a little off track. What I meant to say is that, with Man City apparently sniffing around, it starts to feel as if the fix is in. Conspiracy. What are we to do in the face of such senseless spending? Well, for one, we do have to sharpen up with our third bid. We’ve whittled away at West Ham to the point that their initial insistence on a £120m fee has come down to a somewhat more-sensible £100m demand. However, our second bid fell short. Rather than risk losing him to Man City, where he’d just become another trinket, it’s time to get serious.
With Eddie Nketiah apparently unsettled by the signing of Kai Havertz—even if Havertz and Nketiah don’t fill the same roles—we may a chance to kill two birds with one stone. West Ham need a striker. Antonio and Ings ain’t getting any younger, and Paqueta and Scamacca have failed to impress. Offering Nketiah to West Ham wouldn’t just sweeten the pot for them; it would resolve a problem for us. While Nketiah did pop up with some invaluable goals when Jesus was injured, he just isn’t good enough for our ambitions, and he won’t get any better watching from the bench or coming in for mop-up minutes.
What’s he worth? £20m? Maybe £25m? We could offer him up along with our improved bid of around £90m plus add-ons and make the case that this amounts to a bid of £115m plus add-ons. West Ham get a striker who knows the Prem and is home-grown; we get our man. For those nervous about us low-balling, maybe we go the full Monty, bid £120m, and offer Nketiah? David Sullivan would be a fool to pass on that offer…unless Man City do what Man City have the power to do by making Rice the most expensive English footballer ever.
In the face of that financial firepower, some would say that we’ve dithered. However, it must be said that Man City hadn’t registered any apparent interest in Rice until just a few days ago, and they still haven’t submitted a bid. All we have, then is the whisper of a rumour and our own persistent insecurities. We see that Rice has agreed personal terms with Arsenal and worry that this means less than nothing; we see that Caicedo has agreed personal terms with Chelsea and decide that the ink has dried on the contract. Paranoid schizophrenics probably have a firmer grasp of reality.
In an ideal world, Nketiah would stay here and follow the path blazed by Saka…but he gives off more of an Iwobi vibe, sad to say. Moving him on to a club like West Ham might be best for his career, and it could just be the difference-maker in our pursuit of Rice.