Declan Rice is turning into one of the biggest stories in the transfer market in the offseason, when Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema have already moved.

Arsenal are expected to sign a £105m ($133m) deal for the England international, who is linked to many of Europe’s big clubs.

Manchester City, which has targeted the West Ham midfielder, are not prepared to face that figure, according to an official with knowledge of the Premier League champion’s transfer plans.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

It seems to have cleared the way for Arsenal to make what could be one of the most pivotal signs in the top division of English football.

City and Arsenal have been fighting over Rice’s signing since the transfer window opened after a head-to-head match in the title race last season. Arsenal missed the title after leading for most of the season. It might have been different if Rice was in the middle of the midfield.

That seems to be what Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is looking forward to after making him his main target this year.

After all, Arsenal have exhausted their competition for the title and have won only three of their last nine games.

Rice, 24, established herself as the stadium’s leader with the energy to move his team forward and the fighting power to dominate the game. He will leave West Ham after leading the club to success in the Europa Conference League, its first major trophy in 40 years.

Rice has the potential to close the gap between Arsenal and City, which won three gold medals in the Premier League, the Champions League, and the FA Cup.

A move to City will put the team far ahead of its rivals with the addition of another top player, as did the recent signing of Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland.

Arsenal’s hierarchy is likely aware of that and is backing Arteta’s major transfer push after leading the club back to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Chelsea forward Kai Havertz is also expected to sign for £65m ($82m). 스포츠토토

A former Chelsea academy player, Rice has also been linked with his return to Stamford Bridge, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

He could still join City if the Manchester club offer a more favourable payment term for Arsenal. West Ham are reportedly unhappy with Arsenal’s offer to pay the transfer fee.

City’s decision not to bring it into the auction is not surprising. Despite being one of the richest clubs in the world, thanks to the support of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, Abu Dhabi has repeatedly refused to do more than self-evaluate its goals.

Virgil van Dijk, Harry Maguire and Kalidou Koulibaly in the previous transfer window. But Rice’s move points to City manager Pep Guardiola’s desire to strengthen the midfield after Ilkay Gundogan left for Barcelona.

While midfielder Matteo Kovacic signed for City from Chelsea on Tuesday for £25m ($31.6m), doubts remain about Bernardo Silva’s future.

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