A week ago, Arsenal bid £80 million with a further £10 million in add-ons for Declan Rice. That bid was roundly described as “embarrassing” by numerous sources. We fast forward to today, and another club has matched that offer—£80 million with a further £10 million in add-ons—despite that club having much deeper pockets (and many more alleged financial violations). For those living under a rock, I’m describing Man City’s initial bid for Declan Rice.
Details are still sketchy, and it’s entirely possible that Man City have offered to structure payments on a schedule more to West Ham’s liking. They may have offered more of a pay rise to Rice, whose preference to stay in London has been widely reported. Still, it’s more than a bit odd that a club with Man City’s resources, having just seen Gündoğan leave on a free transfer, essentially match our bid when they could just as easily matched West Ham’s initial insistence on a £125m fee. Why are they nickel-and-diming?
It might be remotely possible, somewhere in the realm of approaching reality, that Man City are feeling the pressure resulting from those 115 alleged financial violations, and they’re worried about overspending. Wouldn’t it be something if FFP didn’t just punish Man City for past transgressions but also hampered future tranactions? Wouldn’t it be something if the Premier League actually brought them to heel, and one of the first fruits would be us signing Rice despite City’s interest? It’s far-fetched, to be sure, but it would sure would make for some sweet, sweet schadenfreude.
Of course, the ball is now in our court. We now know that Man City are just as willing to low-ball their bid as we are, and that’s despite their well-
earned spent reputation for splurging and spending. West Ham wanted a bidding war, and Man City wet the bed with their offer. We’ve already invested a fair amount of time and energy in pursuing Rice; if we’re serious—if we’re to be seen as serious—we have no choice but to submit the kind of bid that will turn West Ham’s head. I wrote about us improving our bid by offering Nketiah, which prompted some discussion.
If Man City’s bid is in fact £80 million with a further £10 million in add-ons, we would be foolish to miss out on the player we’ve identified as our highest priority over £10 million here or £10 million there. I’m hardly suggesting we go the full Boehly here. We’re talking about a fee that amounts to walking-around money. If West Ham are serious about holding out for £100 million for Rice, and if Man City come in with a £90 million bid, we’d better seal this deal with a quickness. We’ve done well to whittle West Ham’s wish down from £125 million. Why squander the opportunity to secure Rice’s services over what amounts to a round error, especially when the alternative is to see him end up as a back-bencher to Rodri?
I hope I’m not going too far out on a limb when I suggest that we really should bring this odyssey to an end well before Penelope can finish weaving. We’ll have to thread the needle between low-balling West Ham and out-bidding Man City. If we can’t navigate the space between Scylla and Charybdis, well, Arteta and Edu will have some pertinent, pressing questions to answer…