Arsenal 'chasing' second West Ham star with £105m Declan Rice transfer nearly done


Arsenal are set to follow up the signing of Declan Rice by launching a surprise move for his West Ham team-mate Ben Johnson as Mikel Arteta continues to look for ways to improve his squad, according to reports. The Gunners are expected to complete a record transfer for Rice in the coming days after finally agreeing a fee with their London rivals, and reports suggest they are not finished raiding David Moyes' squad with another move in the pipeline.

Rice has agreed to sign a long-term contract ahead of his £105million transfer, with Arsenal paying £100m up front and a further £5m in add-ons. It would represent the highest fee spent on a British player and the second-most expensive deal in English history behind Chelsea's signing of Enzo Fernandez.

And he could be joined by a familiar face in swapping one side of London for the north, with reports suggesting Johnson is a shock target for Arsenal.

The 23-year-old made 17 appearances in the Premier League last season, nine of which were starts, as he was used intermittently by Moyes throughout the season.

However, he has had to settle for a deputy role behind first-choice right-back Vladimir Coufal and has been tipped to leave the club this summer.

But according to The West Ham Way, Arsenal have joined Everton in the race to sign the defender, who can play as a full-back or centre-back. His current deal is set to expire in 2024 and the academy graduate is yet to agree terms on a contract extension, with his wage demands too high in comparison to regular starters.

That could force West Ham to sell him this summer for a cut-price fee, with interest from elsewhere in the Premier League. The Guardian reported recently that Everton were keen on the youngster, but Arsenal could now rival them for his signature.

Johnson may be regarded as a backup option by Arteta with Gabriel, William Saliba and Ben White all regarded as important members of the squad. He may be needed as Rob Holding is likely to leave the club, with Express Sport exclusively reporting the centre-back is in talks over a loan to Besiktas.

Arteta has wasted no time in identifying improvements for his squad after narrowly missing out on the Premier League title to Manchester City. They finished second behind Pep Guardiola's men, having led the treble winners by eight points before collapsing in the final weeks of the campaign.

And with the £65m signing of Kai Havertz from Chelsea already confirmed and Rice and Jurrien Timber set to join him at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal's spending is set to soar past £200million.

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