Merson: Arsenal should target Rice

Paul Merson says Arsenal should try to sign Declan Rice from West Ham.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has been tipped to make signings when the transfer window reopens.

And ex-Gunners star Merson believes Arteta should target Rice to fill the holding midfield role.

Rice has been linked with Chelsea – he was on the Blues’ books before being snapped up by West Ham’s academy.

In his column for Sky Sports, pundit Merson said: “The holding midfield position is a massive part of football now.

“I think some people look at the holding midfielders and think they could easily do it. They think they can easily sit in front of the back four and pass the ball five or 10 yards every time they get it, but it’s a very hard job.

“It’s so hard to not get too involved in the game, to stay patient and to stay in position in front of back four.

“Chelsea have been linked with him, but I don’t know why Arsenal aren’t looking at Declan Rice.

“Arsenal are crying out for a holding midfield player. They don’t need a midfielder who’s going to be on the edge of the opposition box, they need a disciplined defensive midfielder, who is going to sit in front of the back four and organise the side; one who, when he gets the ball, gives it simple with 10-yard passes.”

Reports have suggested that Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is interested in buying Rice, who signed a new long-term contract with West Ham last year.

Manchester City and Manchester United are among the other clubs to have been linked with the England international.