Arsenal are reportedly closing in on a deal to sign Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia after West Ham rejected a £90m bid for Declan Rice.

The West Ham captain is said to be the Gunners’ main transfer target amid Arsenal’s £200m war chest.

As The Hammers turn down the latest bid for their captain, journalist Sacha Tavolieri reports Arsenal are on the verge of agreeing personal terms with Southampton midfielder Lavia. He also notes that the Gunners share a close relationship with his agent, Emeka Obasi. It has put the north London club in the box seat to sign the 19-year-old.

Progress in talks between Arsenal sporting director Edu and Obasi over Lavia’s transfer have moved the Gunners into pole position for the midfield anchor man. Edu moved to hold further talks with the Belgian’s representatives over fears that Chelsea will rival their pursuit.

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Southampton Training and Press Conference
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Arsenal close in on a deal to sign Romeo Lavia of Southampton

Arsenal anticipate that Chelsea will soon make Southampton a firm offer for Lavia’s transfer. The Independent also now reports that the Blues will look to rival the Gunners.

READ MORE: All Arsenal confirmed signings and transfers out in 2023/24

It further notes that Manchester United and Liverpool are paying attention to developments regarding the Belgium anchor. The Red Devils also deem Lavia to be a precocious talent. But Southampton have so far fended off any interest in Lavia by demanding a minimum of £45m.

Southampton paid Manchester City an initial £10m, rising to £14m with add-ons, to sign Lavia last July. Their deal with the Citizens also features a £40m buyback clause but it will not become active until 2024.

West Ham captain Declan Rice transfer to Arsenal latest

Declan Rice transfer to Arsenal latest
Photo by Ramsey Cardy – Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images

But while Arsenal are closing in on a deal to sign Lavia from Southampton, Gunners manager Mikel Arteta faces further frustration in the club’s pursuit of Declan Rice’s transfer from West Ham.

The Athletic’s David Ornstein now reports that West Ham have rejected Arsenal’s second bid for Rice’s transfer. Edu had returned to London Stadium with an improved offer worth £75m, plus £15m in add-ons. But the Irons turned down the Gunners’ latest offer for their captain.

Even worse for Arsenal is that The Telegraph’s Jason Burt adds that West Ham turned down their second offer for Rice’s transfer ‘out-of-hand’. The Hammers felt their improved bid was pitiful as the Gunners sought to pay the fee and achievement-based add-ons over five years.

West Ham are unmoving in their demands for a greater upfront instalment and for a shorter payment plan to sell the 24-year-old. So, as Arsenal seemingly make gains in pursuit of Lavia – who Ralph Hasenhuttl called ‘extremely talented’ last July – they stumble for Rice again.

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