Arsenal may need a favour from Mauro Bandeira in £120m Declan Rice transfer

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reviews the Nottingham Forest game

Arsenal are reportedly ready to make their move for West Ham United captain Declan Rice at the end of the season. But the Gunners may require a favour from one of Mikel Arteta’s young stars to help ensure a smoother transition for the 24-year-old in north London.

According to Sky Sports, Arsenal will bid for their priority midfield transfer target at the end of the season. West Ham boss David Moyes is accepting of his skipper’s departure.

But it must come at the right price, with the Hammers set to demand £120million, either in a straight transfer fee or including players.

Rice is said to have an agreement with his boyhood club to finally complete a long-touted big-money switch this summer, though.

And if he completes a move to West Ham’s London rivals Arsenal, he will likely want to keep his signature No 41 shirt.

In February 2022, he told The Overlap: “It was just a number I was given by the kit man, Jamo, in the academy.

“So when you’re in the U23s, you’ve obviously got the first-team squad numbers, and then it gets to higher numbers when you’re in the U23s. And I was given 41.

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“I remember when I went to Seattle. It was my first trip with the first team; I’d just got given the 41, and, you know what, it’s stayed with me ever since.

“To be honest with you, I’ve been having this conversation with my dad regardless of what happens in my career. I think I might stay with the 41. I don’t know [whether I’ll change].

“I just think Rice 41 has a nice ring to it, and obviously, I’ve grown up playing in it. I’m a bit superstitious about things like that.

“I don’t know if I change to a new number, it would hamper my performances. I don’t know! I just think about a couple of things like that sometimes.”

However, teenage midfielder Mauro Bandeira has been assigned the number for recent appearances in Arteta’s matchday squads.

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Bandeira featured on the bench in March’s Europa League game at Sporting Club and Saturday at the City Ground, where Arsenal’s title hopes ended with a 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest.

Rice’s desire to keep the No 41 shirt would likely burn brighter considering two of Arteta’s starting stars – Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes – wear his two alternatives.

“Not a seven! Either four or six. I think that’s the standard number,” the England international told Gary Neville when asked what traditional numbers he’d opt for.

But if Rice arrives at the Emirates Stadium in a club-record deal, it’s safe to assume he will get the No 41 shirt from Bandeira if he wants it, no matter whether the starlet debuts on the final day this weekend.

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