ARSENAL wants Declan Rice and Romeo Lavia to form a midfield dream couple.
Southampton value Lavia, 19, at £45m but the Gunners now see the Belgian as a better option than Brighton’s Moises Caicedo.
Arsenal could face competition from Manchester City for Lavia, which included a buyback in last summer’s £10.5million move to the Saints.
Arsenal remain in talks over Rice – as Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey are linked with a move from north London.
West Ham want more than the British record £106m Chelsea paid Benfica for Enzo Fernandez.
The two clubs are expected to agree a £100m compromise with the possibility of a further £10m in bonuses and surcharges.
Rice is on duty in England but will be on call from next week to confirm personal conditions and undergo a medical.
He believes he fits perfectly with Mikel Arteta’s policy of building a team of hungry young players who can grow together over the next five or six years.
And the opportunity to play Champions League football is another huge incentive for the midfielder, who has been told he can leave West Ham after turning down a new £200,000-a-week contract.
The Gunners are also being linked with a move from Chelsea’s Kai Havertz.
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The Germany international is reportedly set to cost £70m but Arsenal are hoping to sign him for less money.
And on Friday it was claimed that Arteta’s men are now “very close” to agreeing on a deal for the ex-Bayer Leverkusen player.
Arsenal meet Man City in the Community Shield on August 6 before kicking off their Premier League season at home against Nottingham Forest six days later.