Rice is Arsenal’s clear-cut No1 transfer target heading into the latest window that officially opens next week, with the Gunners eager to swiftly wrap up a club-record deal as they ready a huge £90million bid for his services.
However, Standard Sport understands that West Ham will not be rushed into selling their talismanic captain after he led them to a fairytale Europa Conference League victory in Prague this week, with the structuring of the fee likely to prove pivotal.
The Hammers want a significant part of the money for Rice - also wanted by Manchester United and Bayern Munich - up front and have put a £120m price tag on their most important asset, with England colleague Jude Bellingham’s impending big-money move to Real Madrid used as a benchmark.
Arsenal are not expected to have any issues agreeing personal terms with Rice, but they must get the structure of any deal with West Ham right to avoid the possibility of a dreaded repeat of the Mykhailo Mudryk fiasco from January, when they were usurped late on by Chelsea.
Rice is believed to be keen on a switch to Arsenal and his arrival would provide an enormous boost to Mikel Arteta’s midfield and his side’s chances of repeating their surprise Premier League title push next term.
Wilshere, a former member of that Gunners midfield who now coaches the club’s Under-18s side, believes the 24-year-old could be Arsenal’s main man for a decade and take on the captaincy, though it’s worth pointing out that current skipper Martin Odegaard is the same age as Rice.
“I saw his interview [after the Europa Conference League final] and I think he made it clear that he knows there is speculation, and everyone knows that Arsenal are interested,” Wilshere told AFTV.
“Listen, I’d love to see Dec [at Arsenal]. I think what Dec has done as a young player for his club West Ham, for England, to lift a trophy, but also he’s their main man and to have that on your shoulders at 23, 24, is special.
“Anyone that gets him, I hope it is Arsenal because I think he’ll be sensational for the next eight to 10 years and eventually he could be an Arsenal captain. So I hope he does come, but it’s down to him.”