Pep Guardiola hands Mikel Arteta green light to complete ‘exceptional’ £61m Arsenal transfer

Preparation for the summer transfer window is already underway at Arsenal despite their intense Premier League title battle with Manchester City.

The upcoming months in the market will determine whether Mikel Arteta’s side have the onus to continue at the pinnacle of English football.

Sporting director Edu Gaspar has already admitted his phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people wanting to join the club. The list of admirers of Arteta’s side has drastically evolved over the past 18 months, with the Gunners now capable of competing with the big boys in the window.

One transfer saga that is fully expected to involve the north Londoners at the conclusion of the summer is West Ham captain Declan Rice. The versatile midfielder’s contract at the London Stadium expires next summer and he has turned down a number of offers, opening the door for a likely exit.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United have all been linked with the England international, though it has been reported that Rice prefers a move to the Emirates Stadium – and football.london understands he is the Gunners’ top priority this summer. The Athletic have reported that Arteta himself wants to hold talks with the player as soon as the season ends.

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Alongside Jude Bellingham, Rice is one of the most-prized midfielders in football at the moment. His value of £61million – as per CIES Football Observatory – is only considerably lower than Bellingham’s £120million due to his contract situation.

And as the season ticks over, Arsenal have been handed a sign of approval of Rice’s signing by Pep Guardiola. The Man City boss, who played a similar role to Rice in his days at Barcelona and Roma, among others, gave his verdict on the 24-year-old recently. “He’s an exceptional player,” he said.

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