Rice has long been the Gunners’ top summer target, but there had been a reluctance to meet the lofty valuation of the Europa Conference League winners, who are standing firm on their insistence that the 24-year-old will only be sold for in excess of £100m.
But with rivals Chelsea and Bayern Munich circling, 90min understands that Arsenal have pushed ahead in their bid to land Rice and have told West Ham that they will pay more than £100m to take their captain to north London.
An official offer is yet to be made for Rice but if Arsenal finalise the deal, as they are now expected to do, the 24-year-old will become the most expensive English player of all-time, surpassing Manchester City’s deal for Jack Grealish and Real Madrid’s summer move for Jude Bellingham.
West Ham chairman David Sullivan recently confirmed that they plan to sell Rice this summer, having promised the club captain that he is free to leave if the Hammers are fairly compensated for his departure.
Clubs from across Europe have been following the situation but Arsenal have made the first move by indicating a willingness to meet West Ham’s asking price, with Rice understood to be keen on a move to the Emirates.
Progress in negotiations over Rice comes shortly after Arsenal made another major breakthrough, this time in talks with centre-back William Saliba over a new contract.
Saliba’s current deal has just 12 months left to run and talk over an extension had been dragging on for nearly the entire season, but an agreement over a four-year deal has now been struck to hand Arsenal an enormous boost.