Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard was caught signing a Gunners’ shirt for Declan Rice after the 2-2 Premier League tie against West Ham United on Sunday, April 16.
Declan Rice played an impressive role in the Hammers’ team that split points against Arteta’s Gunners on Sunday.
The 24-year-old England superstar is one of the hottest prospects in the English Premier League at the moment.
The Hammers midfielder has been linked with a move away from West Ham United in the summer with the likes of Manchester United and The Gunners racing to get his signature.
Arsenal seems to be the main suitor as Sportsmail revealed in January that Declan Rice has been made Gunners’ top summer transfer target with transfer fee sets for around £100 million once the transfer window opens.
And those reports linking the midfielder with a move across London to the Premier League toppers have now heightened after the 24-year-old England international was spotted embracing Arsenal captain Odegaard and getting him to sign a Gunners shirt for him.
Rice’s interaction with Arsenal’s captain Odegaard has given Gunners fans something to speculate about.
Although swapping of shirts is common between players at full-time this appears to be a weird request by Rice.
Arsenal played in their black away strip and Odegaard is signing a home shirt for him which suggest Rice probably brought the shirt to the London Stadium.
As shown in the picture below, the pair remain dressed in their match kits on their way to their respective changing rooms while Rice holds out the jersey for his opponent to sign.
Meanwhile, the English star loves collecting jerseys from his biggest rivals and boasts an incredible collection featuring the likes of Mason Mount, Harry Kane, Son, Jack Grealish, and other football stars.
But Arsenal fans saw his interaction with their captain as a clear sign that Rice is coming to Emirates Stadium this summer.
A hopeful Arsenal fan keen to see Rice join the Gunners said: “Rice is gagging to leave West Ham, wow.”
Another responded: “He is ours. He wants us.”
One of the fans reacted: “100 percent going to Arsenal.”
Another added: “He could have waited until the summer when on the same but I can’t blame the guy.”
However, one West Ham fan stressed that it was no big deal for players to pen autographs, posting: ‘Why are people making a big deal of this? Rice is a big shirt collector and just wanted a signed shirt from the best-attacking midfielder.’
While another fan had a contrary opinion, saying: “He wasn’t signing shirt for Rice….Rice helped to hold the shirt for Odegaard to sign for a fan…”
Odegaard, meanwhile, was on the scoresheet for the Gunners in their clash against West Ham.
After Gabriel Jesus gave the Premier League leaders the lead, Odegaard made it 2-0 in the tenth minute.
However, Said Benrahma scored a first-half penalty to pull one back for the hosts side.
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka missed a crucial moment from the spot in the second half, and Jared Bowen made Arsenal pay for that by equalizing shortly thereafter.
Following the 2-2 draw, Arsenal now have 74 points from 31 games and hold a four-point lead over second-placed Manchester City, having played a game more.
Speaking after the match, the captain, Odegaard urged his teammates to keep their heads up despite handing the advantage to Manchester City in the Premier League title race.
Odegaard said: “We have to remember we are still top of the league with everything in our own hands.
“The same mindset, same mentality to make sure we win the next one.
“We started well then stopped, allowed them to play on their qualities.
“We gave them the game they wanted, we gave them hope and that’s on us. We have to look forward now.”
Back to the upheaval, Rice will likely be in a position to decide his future whether to remain with the Hammers or not.
And if West Ham’s triple-figured valuation is met by interested Premier League leaders, Arsenal fans will surely give him a delightful welcome.
What’s next for Arsenal and West Ham?
The Gunners will return to action on Friday, April 21 against Southampton in the Premier League at Emirates Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 8 pm.
On the other hand, West Ham will play their second leg of the Europa Conference league quarterfinal against Gent on Thursday, April 20. Kickoff for the match is 8 pm.
What do you think about Rice getting Odegaard to sign Gunner’s jersey for him?