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How Declan Rice fee compares to most expensive signings in Arsenal history

The riches behind Arsenal earned the north London outfit a reputation as the ‘Bank of England club’ but the Gunners are no strangers to pinching pennies.

Sunderland owner Bob Kyle valued his striker Charlie Buchan at £4,000 in 1925 – a bargain as he was worth 20 goals a season. Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris, always in search of a deal, therefore proposed a transfer where Sunderland would receive a guaranteed £2,000 and an extra £100 each time Buchan scored. Kyle accepted but only collected £3,900 after Buchan netted 19 league goals.

Almost a century has passed but little has changed. The structure of the deal to bring Declan Rice from West Ham to Arsenal this summer was also a sticking point – although the debate did not revolve around Rice’s scoring prowess.

Here’s how Rice will compare to Arsenal’s most expensive acquisitions once all of the wrinkles have been ironed out.

The ticker tape had barely settled on West Ham’s Europa Conference League triumph by the time chairman David Sullivan admitted that Rice was on his way out of the club.

A week later, Arsenal tabled their first bid of £80m (plus £10m in bonuses) which West Ham laughed out of the room. Despite just 12 months remaining on his contract, the Hammers were adamant that Rice would command nine digits.

Arsenal’s second offer (worth a total of £90m) was given even less consideration. It was at this point that Manchester City entered the race, briefly forming the auction that West Ham’s hierarchy had been after throughout June.

Bukayo Saka, Declan Rice

Declan Rice (right) went up against his future Arsenal teammate Bukayo Saka while he was at West Ham last season / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Sticking to their principles of not overpaying, City swiftly withdrew from negotiations once their £90m bid was rebuffed. Arsenal finally had a record-breaking offer of £100m with £5m in bonuses accepted by West Ham at the end of June – that sum would make Rice the most expensive British footballer in history, surpassing City’s Jack Grealish.

The delay in Rice’s official unveiling arose from how Arsenal planned to deliver the instalments of the guaranteed £100m to West Ham. Inflation in the UK is at a crippling 8.7% – a sum of £25m delivered next summer may be worth considerably less than £25m in the bank right now.

In addition, West Ham are one of four Premier League clubs that were placed on UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) watchlist in September. The sooner they can bank Rice’s transfer, the healthier the club’s accounts will look. Despite their extravagant spending this summer, Arsenal are not in danger of breaching FFP rules.

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Player

Year signed

Signed from

Transfer fee

Declan Rice

2023

West Ham

£105m*

Nicolas Pepe

2019

Lille

£72m

Kai Havertz

2023

Chelsea

£65m

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

2018

Borussia Dortmund

£56m

Ben White

2021

Brighton

£50m

Alexandre Lacazette

2017

Lyon

£46.5m

Thomas Partey

2020

Atletico Madrid

£45.3m

Gabriel Jesus

2022

Manchester City

£45m

Mesut Ozil

2014

Real Madrid

£42.4m

Granit Xhaka

2016

Borussia Monchengladbach

£35m

The reported fee for Rice will eclipse any sum of money Arsenal have ever paid for the services of a single player. Nicolas Pepe comes closest with a move worth £72m in 2019. The Ivorian winger tempted Arsenal into such a gargantuan expenditure with a 22-goal season for Lille. Across his first four years in the Premier League, Pepe has mustered just 16 goals.

There was a time when Arsene Wenger triumphantly declared that Arsenal “don’t buy superstars, we make them”. However, that ideal faded once the club had fully paid off the construction costs of the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger’s final signing as Arsenal manager was also the most expensive of his reign. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cost what was then a club-record £56m on the final day of the 2018 January transfer window.

It all started so well for the former Borussia Dortmund forward, rattling in 50 Premier League goals faster than any other player in club history. However, it ended in ignominy, as Aubameyang had his contract terminated by mutual consent after a breakdown in his relationship with Mikel Arteta.

That stand-off in February 2022 underlined Arteta’s authority when it comes to personnel decisions. One of the three key decision-makers in the club’s transfer policy, Arteta has been emphatically backed this summer – as evidenced by the recent arrivals sitting at the top of the list of Arsenal’s most expensive signings.

The club’s first summer acquisition, Kai Havertz, slots into the leading trio – although he is expected to command a considerably larger salary than Rice despite his smaller transfer fee. If Arsenal do sign Ajax’s Jurrien Timber for a sum in the region of £40m as 90min has reported, the Dutch defender would also crack the top ten.

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On this edition of The Chronicles of a Gooner, part of the 90min podcast network, Harry Symeou discuss Granit Xhaka’s impending exit from Arsenal, conflicting reports on Romeo Lavia’s future at Southampton, a move for Joao Cancelo & more!

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