Arsenal must believe West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is joining them in the summer, with Granit Xhaka heading for the exit, Dean Jones has told Sportsbuffer.
Xhaka has been outstanding for the Gunners in 2022-23, but the Swiss midfielder is likely to leave the club at the end of the season.
Arsenal news – Declan Rice
Rice has emerged as a top priority target for Arsenal as Mikel Arteta is looking to bolster his midfield areas this summer.
Arteta will be handed a hefty transfer kitty in the summer window, but he may need to offload some players to make space for new additions.
Xhaka could be one of those players whose future could lie away from the Emirates stadium next season. According to ESPN, Bayer Leverkusen are in talks to sign the 30-year-old who has a year remaining on his current contract.
Arsenal have the option to extend the deal by a further year, but it looks like he will leave the club this summer.
Arteta has said that Xhaka is respected by everyone at the club and that he is a very important member of the side. He said, as quoted by Football London:
“The clarity is there. He is a player that has played I think every minute since I have been the manager. He is an incredibly respected figure at the club.
“He has a great story around him with what he has achieved at the club in going through very tough moments and he is a key and very important part of us. Whatever happens is something we will discuss, certainly not now.”
Jones explains Xhaka-Rice situation
Jones is concerned that the Gunners might lose Xhaka’s leadership skills and that he will be hard to replace.
Speaking to Sportsbuffer, he said: “The Granit Xhaka exit situation is interesting and just makes me even more convinced that they must believe Rice is joining. That will take big investment but that is necessary for where they are aiming to get to.
“The one thing I would be concerned about with losing Xhaka is his leadership skills on and off the pitch – I think that aspect of him should not be underestimated and will be hard to replace.”
Rice – the perfect replacement for Xhaka?
The Hammers skipper could be a perfect replacement for Xhaka. The 24-year-old has been a symbol of consistency for both club and country in the past few years.
He has a contract at West Ham until 2024, but the Hammers do have the option to extend the deal by another year.
Rice is reportedly on £60k-per-week wages, and the Gunners can easily offer him a better pay package, although he is not driven by money.
He wants to play in the Champions League, and the Hammers won’t prevent him from exploring new ventures. He is a leader both on and off the pitch and would be an ideal replacement for Xhaka.