Arsenal legend Paul Merson has urged Gunners boss Mikel Arteta to make a move for West Ham defensive midfielder Declan Rice, in conversation with Sky Sports.
The 21-year-old has been one of West Ham’s better players in 2019-20, a difficult season in which the Hammers are outside of the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference.
As one of the most talented young midfielders in the country, the England international is believed to be sought after by several clubs.
Both Manchester United and Manchester City have been heavily linked with Rice in the past and recent reports claim Chelsea are also interested in him (Metro).
However, Merson believes that Arsenal are badly in need of a player like Rice and has urged the Gunners to join the race for the Three Lions man.
“I don’t know why Arsenal aren’t looking at Declan Rice,” Merson wrote on Sky Sports.
“Arsenal are crying out for a holding midfield player. They don’t need a midfielder who’s going to be on the edge of the opposition box, they need a disciplined defensive midfielder, who is going to sit in front of the back four and organise the side; one who, when he gets the ball, gives it simple with 10-yard passes.”
Merson also said Arsenal haven’t really had a “disciplined defensive midfielder” since Gilberto Silva, a player who, like Patrick Vieira, wasn’t properly replaced, according to the former Gunners midfielder.
“For me, a good holding midfielder is priceless,” Merson continued. “Arsenal haven’t really had a disciplined defensive midfielder since Gilberto Silva.
“Everyone talks about the club never really replacing Patrick Vieira, and of course, but they never replaced Gilberto either. There are players in the current team that are meant to do that job but they don’t have the discipline to do it, and that needs addressing.”
Rice is a talented player who has come such a long way in a short space of time and, considering he’s playing for a club in danger of relegation, the prospect of a move to a club higher up the league isn’t particularly implausible.
Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger was previously left impressed by Rice, with West Ham coach Steve Potts recalling: “I remember going over to Arsenal for an Under-18 match and, during the game, Arsene Wenger walked over to take a look.
“He was only stood there watching for 20 minutes, but I spoke to one of their staff members I knew after the game, and he said Arsene had pointed out Declan as the best player on the pitch.”
However, with West Ham boss David Moyes reportedly slapping a £90million price tag on Rice (Claret & Hugh), he wouldn’t come cheap.