Arsenal submitted their first bid for Declan Rice earlier today — £80M paid over 6 years with £10M in add-ons. West Ham swiftly rejected the offer. It’s all part of the expected transfer song and dance. Arsenal have a number in mind that they’d like to pay. West Ham have a valuation. The two sides will hammer out the terms, i.e. how much money gets paid when, what the triggers are for the add-ons, and will meet somewhere in the middle.
“But why don’t Arsenal just pay what West Ham are asking?” For starters, the Hammers have reportedly set a £110M valuation on Rice. That number is more than they will get for him, and Arsenal would be foolish to pay that much. West Ham have said the number will go down as more money is offered up front too, as opposed to spread out over payments made annually.
The Hammers’ high valuation is an attempt to anchor negotiations, just as Arsenal’s low initial offer is one. It’s all part of the psychology of negotiating, an extensive body of research and experience in which both sides are undoubtedly experts. They’ll likely settle somewhere in the £90-95M range with achievable add-ons that could push the deal over the £100M mark.
The new wrinkle from today’s reporting that has set off alarm bells for some is that Manchester City are supposedly mulling getting involved and dwarfing anything Arsenal could offer. As far as I can tell, there is no source attached to Manchester City’s interest. Even though David Ornstein, the pinnacle of reliable reporting on Arsenal, mentioned City in his short video update and post on The Athletic, there was no mention of where he was getting that City were exploring making a bid.
He’s not making it up. I’m sure someone told Ornstein that Manchester City are interested. But was it anybody at City? Might it have been a West Ham source looking to spark a bidding war, drive up the price, and add some urgency to Arsenal’s negotiations? Could it have been someone from Rice’s camp who wants to spur the move along and add a bit more cash to their own cut of the transfer?
I’m not particularly concerned by City’s reported interest. Yes, the deal might still fall apart, but I don’t think it will be for that reason. The reporting is that Rice wants to move to Arsenal and that West Ham respect Rice’s wishes. The Arsenal brass are still confident the move will get done. All signs still point towards Declan Rice wearing an Arsenal kit next season. Take a deep breath. Today’s “news” isn’t worth getting worked up over.