Arsenal have a ‘secret agent’ who will help them beat Manchester City and Chelsea to sign West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, according to reports.

The Gunners have identified Rice as a key target ahead of the summer window. They signed Jorginho in January but they are looking to sign another midfielder who can provide competition for Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka.

Rice has revealed that he is keen to move to a Champions League club after West Ham’s decline this campaign. Mikel Arteta is believed to be ‘directly involved’ in talks as Arsenal look to sign the England international.

It is reported that he could cost as much as £100m this summer and Man City are among the teams also interested in signing the West Ham star.

But The Daily Mail claim Jack Wilshere is Arsenal’s ‘secret agent’ in the race to sign Rice. The duo ‘formed a close relationship’ during their time together at West Ham and they ‘remain tight’.

According to reports, the ‘Wilshere-factor could well be an influencer as Rice decides his next destination’.

Wilshere announced his retirement at the age of 30 last summer. The midfielder has since returned to the Emirates to become the manager of their U18 team.

The report adds that: ‘Chelsea are interested, but without Champions League football – which looks likely – Rice will think twice about a return to Stamford Bridge.

‘Manchester United could also be an option for the England international but Arsenal are believed to be in pole position.’

Rice has been one of the Premier League’s best midfielders in recent years as he helped West Ham qualify for Europe.

But, Roy Keane believes that Rice must do “a lot more” to be classed as “one of the top midfielders in the country”.

“Obviously he has got to focus on doing well for West Ham for the rest of the season, I don’t think he has been great this season I really don’t,” Keane told ITV.

“He has not really kicked on for all the talk about him, a lot of good PR coming out of West Ham from how much he has worked. I think he needs to do a lot more – doesn’t score a lot of goals, doesn’t get enough assists.

“I think I know what I am talking about, I played midfield, he needs to do a lot more. I have been a fan of him, he turns up every week but I just want a bit more from him, there’s talk of him leaving for big money and going for one of the bigger clubs, competing for trophies and playing in the Champions League, he needs to do a lot more it is as simple as that.

“Sometimes I see him at West Ham, not saying he is playing badly but sometimes he is going through the motions, sidewards, backwards, picking the easy option. He needs to do a lot more to be one of the top midfielders in the country.”

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