Arsenal ‘make decision’ on £75m Caicedo deal stopping Rice pursuit

Arteta hopes for FA Cup win to give Arsenal boost in title race

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Arsenal are weighing up whether to rival Chelsea for the big-money signing of Moises Caicedo before the January deadline, according to reports. Some Gunners fans may be scratching their heads as to how that will affect their anticipated pursuit of Declan Rice during the summer, although the club have already set out their plan of action. 

Arsenal supporters were left gutted earlier in the window when Chelsea pipped them to the £88million signing of Mykhaylo Mudryk. The former Shakhtar Donetsk winger made an impressive debut against Liverpool at the weekend and he was believed to be at the top of Mikel Arteta’s wish list. 

The Gunners recovered quickly to swoop for Leandro Trossard, and they could yet snap up another Brighton talent before the end of the month. Reports indicate that the club are interested in rivalling Chelsea for Caicedo, whose star has risen quickly since becoming a first-team regular on the south coast. 

The Blues have already seen a £55m bid for the Ecuadorian knocked back, with Brighton’s valuation reportedly set at £75m. It remains to be seen whether Arsenal are willing to bite at that price, particularly in the knowledge that West Ham are set to demand around £100m for Rice at the end of the season. 

Arteta has supposedly drawn up a plan for how he can fit Rice in at the Emirates, amid a feeling that they can pip rival suitors to the England star’s signature. Despite the lofty price-tags attached to both players, The Telegraph claim that landing Caicedo this month wouldn’t detract from their interest in Rice. 

Depth in midfield is a key issue at the Emirates with Arsenal chasing a first Premier League title since 2003/04. Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka are all nailed-on starters in north London, but there would be a significant drop-off in quality should one of them get injured.

One of the back-up options, Mohamed Elneny, has recently been struck with a knee injury and is still being assessed. Arteta admits that Elneny’s situation is ‘concerning’, adding: “We need some more cover in midfield ideally if we can, but in this market it is pretty complicated to do that.”

Brighton have so far resisted offers to let Caicedo go this month, with manager Roberto De Zerbi already having to cope without Trossard and fending off interest in Alexis Mac Allister. A deal for Rice would be no less complicated with top clubs across the Premier League wise to his talent, but Arsenal could one-up Chelsea if Graham Potter fails to turn things around and finish in the top four. 

“One hundred per cent I want to play in the Champions League,” explained Rice while on England duty late last year. “For the last two or three years I’ve been saying that. I’ve been playing consistently well for my club and I feel like I really want to keep pushing.

“I see my friends here [in the England camp] who are playing Champions League and for big trophies. You only get one career and at the end you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in.”

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