Declan Rice:Arsenal or Manchester City? Who is it going to be for?

The Prague night that Declan Rice, in tears, held aloft Tin Pot having inspired the Hammers to victory as captain, leader and legend.

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Avignyan Mukhopadhyay
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Declan Rice | Sportz Point

The transfer window has served up a right old tug o'war. Arsenal or Manchester City? Mikel Arteta's brave young Gunners or Pep Guardiola's masters of the universe? This always seemed likely on the Prague night that Declan Rice, in tears, held aloft Tin Pot having inspired the Hammers to victory as captain, leader, legend, cashable asset.

Deja vu for Arsenal, then? Just when a prize is within their fingers, in sail City to pluck it away? The word is that Dec previously had his heart set on being a Gunner. Not that the three-cap Republic O'Ireland/43-cap England international is given to changing his mind. Last season, a £100m asking price was thrown liberally around at the Hammerdome to just about anyone who asked, co-owner David Sullivan admitting in the aftermath of Tin Pot glory that " set his heart on going"

In what those earnest types on Sky Sports News call a "developing situation", City have offered £80m plus £10m in add-ons, as compared to Arsenal's £75m plus £15m in add-ons. West Ham are unhappy with both, even with extras that may or may not include Dec headlining the West Holts stage at Glastonbury by 2027 and/or winning Ken Bruce's new PopMaster TV series. The price, as David Moyes and Sully kept trying to tell you, is £100m, then talk.

At Arsenal, there is an obvious gap to fill. With Granit Xhaka being shelled to the Bundesliga and Thomas Partey another mainstay identified as replaceable, Declan Rice can pop straight in, even if Kai Havertz also arrives.

There, in the midfield engine room, he can be the inspirational, box-to-box midfielder behind a first title win for 20 years, a club legend forever. Indeed, they don't forget at the Arsenal.

The weekend just gone saw Edu, an Invincible of 2004, mobbed in Cricklewood when collecting some barbecue equipment. Those who posed for selfies and charcoal briquettes with the former schemer will also have been aware that he is now a club suit with responsibility for transfers, Declan Rice doubtless one of the names on their lips.

But what happens if City find the money? Does Surrey-boy Declan Rice head to the Cheshire football belt, to learn at the foot of the game's supreme midfield whisperer?

There is no guarantee Pep Guardiola sees him as a box-to-box man; there's always the possibility the Catalan genius's mind-map curates him into an inverted, free-jazz full-back rather than Ilkay Gündogan's natural replacement.

And then there's suspicion that, in choosing City, young Declan Rice would be pushing the cheat-mode button to add further trophies to that oh-so-sweet Tin Pot. Even worse, some would tell you City are now so dominant they've taken to stockpiling players so nobody else can have them. Kalvin Phillips? Exactly.

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