Arsenal are the best fit for Declan Rice – but certain trophies with Man City may be enough to swing the Premier League’s biggest summer transfer saga

Declan Rice Mikel Arteta Pep Guardiola GFX

Arsenal are the best fit for Declan Rice. The 24-year-old is a better fit for Mikel Arteta’s team, but Pep Guardiola is offering guaranteed silverware at the Etihad Stadium

Declan Rice knows a thing or two about difficult decisions. On February 13, 2019, after nearly a full year of deliberation, he declared for England – despite having represented Ireland at international level for the previous three years. Rice had even been capped three times by the senior side – but, crucially, not once in a competitive fixture.

The backlash was bitter and Rice himself admitted that he could understand the fury of the Irish fans. However, despite talk of “pride” in the jersey and “mixed nationality”, he tellingly admitted that he ultimately decided to do what he considered “best for my future”.

And if we remove loyalty and integrity from the equation, given they are archaic concepts in modern football anyway, everyone would agree that Rice chose wisely. He has benefited enormously in the intervening four years, both from a sporting and financial perspective.

Rice played in a World Cup last year – Ireland haven’t even reached the finals since 2002 – while becoming an England international has also undoubtedly made him a more attractive proposition to sponsors.

Declan Rice West Ham

Pick of the Premier League’s eliteOne can be sure, then, that Rice will apply the same sense of ruthless rationality to the toughest decision he has had to make since changing his international allegiances. Of course, this time around, Rice has far more options available to him. Having established himself as one of the best players in England, he has the pick of the Premier League’s clubs vying for his signature this summer. Arsenal are the best fit for Declan Rice. When the window opened, it appeared as if Rice was almost certain to join last season’s runners-up, with Arsenal getting their first bid in nice and early. However, their opening offer was promptly rejected, as was their second, leading to reports that West Ham were more than a little upset with the Gunners for undervaluing their most prized possession.

Edu Arsenal 2022-23

Arsenal punished for trying to haggle?A third bid is imminent, but one wonders if Arsenal shouldn’t have gone all-in right away, given it has been clear for some time that their fellow Londoners weren’t going to accept anything less than £100 million ($128m) for one of the most sought-after midfielders on the market. Arsenal are the best fit for Declan Rice. For that very reason, it was in the Gunners’ interest to wrap this deal up as quickly as possible, given the longer this dragged on, there more likely it was that rivals for Rice’s signature would emerge. And that’s exactly what’s happened.

Pep Guardiola Erik ten Hag Manchester City Manchester United 2022-23

Manchester duo join the race for RiceOn Wednesday, it was claimed that Manchester United were ready to try hijack Arsenal’s deal by making Scott McTominay or Harry Maguire a part of the deal. Given the Hammers’ reported interest in signing the former anyway, such a player-plus-cash offer could appeal to the Hammers.But then so could seeing Rice join Manchester City for a hefty fee and Kalvin Phillips move in the opposite direction. Arsenal are the best fit for Declan Rice. West Ham were interested in signing the former Leeds United ace while he was still plying his trade at Elland Road and, according to an ESPN report published later on the same day, City are willing to make the England international a part of their bid.Rice would obviously give serious consideration to a move to the Etihad. Any player with a high ceiling for improvement would obviously be tempted by the prospect of working with Pep Guardiola, the game’s most revered coach. But would City really be the right move at this moment in time?

Kalvin Phillips Manchester City bench 2022-23

Phillips’ predicament a warning for RiceHis preferred position in front of the backline is presently occupied by Rodri, who is still only 26 and undoubtedly the best defensive midfielder in the world right now.Given Rice’s versatility – he has occasionally been deployed as a centre-back in the past – he could conceivably step into the dual role being played by John Stones, the defender that Guardiola has effectively converted into an auxiliary midfielder. But Stones took to the task like a duck to water – one suspects that he is only going to get better and better. Displacing him would not be easy.And that’s the primary issue here: Rice would not necessarily walk into the City starting line-up, even if they spent £100m on him. Jack Grealish, after all, spent his first season at the Etihad sitting on the bench. Rice really couldn’t afford such a lengthy period of adaptation if he wants to be a guaranteed starter for England at next year’s European Championship.The mere fact that City are willing to give up on Phillips just a year after his own multi-million pound move to Manchester should serve as a warning side for Rice. Clearly, he is a better midfielder than his England colleague – but even some of City’s best players took time to get used to Guardiola’s demands.

Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2022-23

A certain starter at ArsenalBy complete contrast, Rice would immediately become one of the first names on Mikel Arteta’s teamsheet – if not the first, given he is exactly the kind of midfield presence they have been desperately craving. Thomas Partey was excellent at times during the 2022-23 campaign, but Rice would represent a significant upgrade on the 30-year-old Ghanaian, who could leave the Emirates this summer anyway.Rice would provide additional cover for a back four that was badly exposed following William Saliba’s injury last season, while Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli would benefit enormously from Rice’s ability to both win and distribute the ball.Basically, an exciting young Arsenal side would get even more exciting. And also, with a few sensible additions elsewhere, also become the kind of deep and talented squad that could actually sustain a title challenge. Rice really could make that much of impact in north London.According to reports, he has been enthused by idea of joining the revolution that Arteta is overseeing at the Emirates for some time, meaning Arsenal still have every chance of landing their top transfer target this summer.

Declan Rice West Ham 2022-23 shirt over face

Rice should choose Arsenal but…However, the waters have undeniably muddied in recent days. Rice could yet be swayed by the prestige of playing at Old Trafford. Or the prospect of winning trophy after trophy at the Etihad – whether he is playing regularly or not.Of course, a championship success at Arsenal would carry far greater value, given the club’s Premier League title drought, and there certainly wouldn’t be any asterisk placed beside the achievement. At the end of the day, though, this is Rice’s difficult decision to make and all we know for certain that he will do whatever he feels is right for his future.So, while he really should plump for Arsenal, don’t be at all surprised if he chooses City. If history has taught us anything, it’s that Rice will find it tough to turn down whomever offers him a better chance of winning trophies and earning more money.

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