Rice met Arteta iп Jaпυary ahead of £105m move bυt Weпger spotted him years ago

A REPORT has claimed that Declan Rice had a secret meeting with Mikel Arteta – but Arsene Wenger actually spotted the star’s talent years ago as a kid.

Arsenal have agreed a £105million fee for the England international with West Ham.

Declan Rice hopes to complete his £105m transfer to Arsenal this week
He was reportedly ‘blown away’ after a meeting with Mikel Arteta in January

SunSport revealed on Friday that a deal is expected to be finalised this week with the two clubs just discussing final terms over the exact payment.

Eagle-eyed West Ham fans spotted how the Irons had dropped a massive hint that the transfer is taking place by removing Rice’s shirt from the club website.

Ahead of the move, The Times has claimed that Arsenal “have noted” that the 24-year-old midfielder is a “quick learner”.

And they even state that Rice and Arsenal boss Arteta “met in January” and the player was instantly impressed by the Spaniard.

Mikel Arteta makes Declan Rice move as Arsenal boss 'confident' of transfer | Football | Sport | Express.co.uk
They report that Rice was “bowled over by the plans to develop his role and improve his game” if he joins the Gunners.

The publication also added that legendary former Arsenal manager Wenger could have moved to sign him back when the star was a 16-year-old.

Rice was in action for West Ham’s under-18 side against the young guns from North London.

Wenger took the opportunity to walk over and watch the action at London Colney to see if any of his club’s kids were ready for the step-up to the first-team.

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But instead it was Rice’s display that made him sit up and take notice.

West Ham’s U23 coach Steve Potts said: “He was only there watching for 20 minutes but I spoke to one of their staff members I knew after the game.

“Arsene had pointed out Declan as the best player on the pitch.”

West Ham hope to agree payment terms with Arsenal this week – Hammers chiefs want it all by the start of 2025 whereas the Gunners would prefer financially to stagger a section of it across a longer period.

Rice is believed to have agreed personal terms and is desperate to get the deal over the line.

A medical for the midfielder is set to be arranged and he could become Arsenal’s second signing of the summer following the arrival of Kai Havertz.

Arsene Wenger spotted the star’s talents years ago in a youth match

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