Declan Rice backed to become Arsenal’s very own Steven Gerrard

Arsenal have been backed to help Declan Rice fulfil his potential in becoming the next Steven Gerrard. Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock says the West Ham captain can take his game to a new level with a move to the Emirates.

Arsenal are the favourites to sign Rice this summer. His contract expires in 2024 but the Hammers do have the option to extend it by a further year.

David Moyes has reiterated that Rice will be “extremely expensive” but Arsenal are prepared to spend a large chunk of their budget on the 24-year-old. He would become the club’s most-expensive signing of all time and by far the biggest arrival in Mikel Arteta’s reign as manager.

The Gunners are back in the Champions League for the first time in seven years. Warnock says that is a necessity for a player of Rice’s calibre.

He would like to see his old club Liverpool sign him but admits Arsenal is the likelier destination. The pundit can see comparisons with legendary Reds captain Gerrard and predicts Rice to show more of those attributes if he were to move to the Emirates.

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Warnock said on Sky Sports News: “I think he needs to be playing Champions League football. He is an outstanding footballer. Without being disrespectful to West Ham, if he leaves and goes to a top four in the Champions League places, he will improve, he will get better.

“I’d love to see him at Liverpool, I’m not going to lie, I’ve said it many times. I think he’d be a huge addition for Liverpool.

“But it looks like whether it will be Arsenal, maybe, they’ve been touted as the team who are interested in buying him. But whoever gets him is buying someone who is durable, tactically brilliant, adaptable to where he plays.

“You could literally play him in any midfield position, you could play him centre-back, you could play him right-back. He would be so comfortable in any position playing for your team.

“So you’re buying a player who can play in numerous positions and probably be the best player in every single position on the pitch. I think he is phenomenal. I think he’s just going to get better and better as well.

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“I said it last year he reminds me, and the closest thing I’ve seen to Gerrard, but the one thing he doesn’t do at the moment is he doesn’t score enough goals. That’s a side that I think by going to a different club, that would improve.”

Arsenal’s record buy is Nicolas Pepe for £72million. Warnock reckons Rice would be worth at least £80m and nearer to £100m.

He added: “You’re looking in and around £100m aren’t you. You also have to take into consideration him being a homegrown player, being an English player within a squad.

“That’s hugely valuable as well. It’s so difficult to put a price on it but you’d say anywhere between £80m and £100m.”

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