The Curious Case of the Cityzens’ Interest in Rice by Mr Munday
As now the summer’s first and foremost transfer saga comes to a close, Arsenal would appear to have come out winners of the signature of Declan Rice for a (very) hefty sum of money.
Reports date back months now to the link between Rice and Arsenal and it has seemed almost something of a sure bet as we have learned, little by little, about how enamoured Rice is with Arteta’s Arsenal project and how he could become a central part of it, about how he prefers to stay in London close to his family, and so on.
Everything seemed to be sailing smoothly along to the inevitable conclusion of West Ham and Arsenal negotiating on how best to fulfil the 24-year old’s wishes to join our, now very attractive, club as it comes into full force after a long period of rebuilding.
Yet then there was, a few weeks back, the dreaded news of a possible interest from Manchester City in our number one target. As it was bound to happen, such news immediately sparked a whole range of reactions from the public. Many thought it was already over from the start, that the moment the Cityzens express their desire for a player they are necessarily going to get what they want – certainly it wouldn’t have been the first time that Arsenal was muscled out of a big deal that they had worked hard to set up by a club with more financial clout.
Others meanwhile speculated that the whole thing was nothing but a ploy by the Hammers, to drive up the price of their home-grown star boy, the idea being that the East London club would have resorted to the fabrication of fake news in order to ensure that they got the price they desired, even though Rice only wanted Arsenal and Arsenal definitely wanted Rice. Others still remained quietly confident that Rice was a sensible lad, who saw himself being a key long-term element in Arsenal’s resurgence, and that we would eventually get our man no matter what attempts from other clubs might surface to steal him away.
Little matter which theory one adhered to, reports of interest in Rice from the treble-winning juggernaut that is Man City would not go away, and Arsenal fans began biting their nails shorter and shorter as we heard how Pep is a big fan of Declan and how imminent bids were being prepared. The story rumbled on, selling papers and generating millions of clicks, as Arsenal put in two bids and were rebuffed twice. Then City’s, until then only hypothetical, interest became very real as they put in a more financially appealing bid for the player. Panic!
Few Arsenal fans at this point managed to hold their nerve and it was hard to continue to believe that we could come out on top if it came down to a bidding war with the club backed by so many oil billions. It had been said that City would only bid if they received assurances from the player that he was genuinely interested in joining – they would not wish to lose face in missing out to title rivals in the signature of a key man. Were we to conclude then that Rice had given them the green light and that this was the reason for them entering the race?
While many Arsenal fans did panic, and a great many more fans of other clubs didn’t hesitate to start mocking us already for being rejected and outbid, others were listening to an alternative story being told by reliable reporters who know West Ham, and other sure sources such as the Guardian newspaper, which continued to say that Rice’s priority was to stay in London and become a lynchpin of the Gunner’s exciting new setup. City-favouring pundits of course weighed in with their words of wisdom of how hard it would be to turn down the Champions, how such a player must inevitably choose to sign for them… but all that was just a lot of hot air! Indeed folks, lucky for us, it’s our Arsenal that has pulled out all the stops to get their man. City have desisted and West Ham have accepted our bumper bid.
Though the matter of the price tag versus the quality of the player will certainly be discussed at length, I believe this is excellent news for our club – my question in this article is more of; why did City enter the race at all if they weren’t prepared to go all the way? Anyone with access to the internet has long since known that West Ham were holding out for a £100 million fee, so why come in with a £90 million package and then leave it there? Theories will abound once more.
Perhaps there never really was a bid and all of this is fabrication to squeeze more cash out of Arsenal Football Club. Maybe, but too many reliable sources have reported the bid, and so the idea that so many would have duped hardly seems likely.
Perhaps City just decided in the end they didn’t want him as much as we did. Perhaps they were just testing the water and then got word that Rice’s heart was truly set on Arsenal and so decided not to start putting up silly sums and get rejected.
Or perhaps they always knew that Rice wanted Arsenal and they just wanted to make sure that by bidding for him we would be obliged to pay the highest possible price, in an attempt to drain our resources as much as possible?
My personal belief is that there was genuine interest from their part, and that the fact of making a formal bid permitted them to see if they were going to be able to turn the player’s head and lure him to a club where success is almost guaranteed. One can only imagine that when Guardiola calls, it is hard to give him a straight “no”, and that even though Rice had been convinced up until that point of his own desire to join The Arsenal, even he himself was left with lingering doubts once City’s theoretical approaches became concrete. Anyone would quite naturally have to ask themselves the question of whether they wanted to join Pep’s superstars, and Rice was entitled his moment of indecision, if that is what in fact occurred.
However, that brief moment of uncertainty that was created by City’s involvement is now over, and it is Arsenal that will be Rice’s final destination – meaning the story comes out as being one of us having gotten one over on our number one league rivals. The fact of not matching our third bid has meant that the Sky Blues have avoided a situation in which two equal proposals force the player to clearly express his preference, a scenario which might have been more embarrassing for them still. Yet the feeling is that this is all the same a great victory for our club.
Whether City were just testing the water, pushing up the price or had more genuine and positive intentions we cannot know, but by entering the race they put themselves in direct competition with the club that wants to overthrow them as the premier force in the league. We have shown that we can beat them to the signing of a top player that both clubs wanted. T
he result is that in the end it is they that have egg on their face, and they might have been better off leaving us to conclude our dealings without interference. We are on the up lads, so get behind Arteta and our amazing team!
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