This morning I logged in to my Twitter as usual and for the third day in a row I saw a debate that had been retweeted by an Arsenal fan, between West Ham fans, about the whole Declan Rice situation. And I have to tell you, it confused the heck out of me. The debate I’ve seen wasn’t worded the exact same way each day that I’ve seen it this week, but I’ve seen similar discord within the West Ham community:

Why is he joining Arsenal? I hate them now so much. Why didn’t he go to Man City? That would have been better.

This kind of thought process confuses me. When did West Ham fans develop such a hatred of The Arsenal? This isn’t something I’ve ever seen before, it is purely arising – from what I can see – as a result of the impending transfer of Declan Rice to us.

I tried to break down in my head where West Ham fans might be frustrated, annoyed, cheesed off, with Arsenal and the way they have behaved and, to my mind, this is how the Rice situation has played out:

He stated late last year whilst away with England that he wanted to play in the Champions League, intimating that ideally it would be next season (Arsenal were top of the league at that stage and West Ham were in 16th).

At that stage if Arsenal were looking at their central midfield options they would have been sounding out a few players. As we know they must have also have sounded out Caicedo’s people, because we made a bid for him in January.

At some stage during that January period…

News broke out that Arsenal were interested in Rice and that he was impressed by Arteta and had been open to the idea of a move (Arsenal were still top of the league in January when this news broke)

In an ideal world nobody talks to anybody unless the club gives permission but if any Arsenal or West Ham fan thinks that any player currently at their club hasn’t even spoken to other clubs via agencies and intermediaries, then they are living on Cloud Cuckoo Land. If you think that I would recommend Sky’s “Deadline Day: Football’s Transfer Window” programme. In it you LITERALLY see agents talking to players about how “this club, this club and this club are interested in you, I have spoken to them” from the agent. It happens, it is football. We do it with players, we get it done to us (van Persie anyone? Cesc? Nasri? They will have all have had sweet nectar of promises poured in to their ears).

So with that in mind at that stage all Arsenal have done is work out if there’s any point in bidding and how interested the player is. And for it to come out publicly that he was very interested and impressed with Arteta, then there must have been quite positive feedback from the Rice camp.

So now we have a player saying he wants to play Champions League, a player with whom it was widely reported that he wouldn’t sign a new deal, interested in a club at the top of the league. Strip out the names if you want, just think of the circumstance. So, what next?

Rice has a brilliant end to the season, wins the club their first trophy in decades with them and West Ham – including David Moyes – talk about how he might leave the club, but he has to be on their terms and around £100million.

Then David Sullivan goes on national radio and admits they have to grant him a move, he’s done so much for the club, he’s a great kid, he has turned down an offer for them that would have got him an extra £10million in wages, to stay at West Ham.

Why did he turn down that deal? He wants to play Champions League football.

Does he have Champions League football next season at Arsenal? Yes.

Is there a guarantee he will play Champions League football the season after? Of course not, but from the end of next season we have five teams in the revised format. That increases his chances. In the last seven seasons Arsenal have finished at least fifth four times. And this has – we as Arsenal fans all admit – been some of the worst of times until the upturn we saw in the last two season’s under Arteta. If you go back 20 year’s, Arsenal have finished fifth or above in 16 of the last 20 seasons. So with that in mind, if he’s looking at the numbers, he’s probably thinking we have a pretty good chance of playing Champions League football in more than just next season. It is not a guarantee, but it is a pretty good shot.

So that’s another thing ‘ticked off’ that has been factually spoken about by Rice and that West Ham and their fans have known about for eight months at least.

What about the fee then? Should West Ham fans be annoyed about the fee?

If anything, I’d argue myself that they should be pretty happy about that situation. I think Rice is a superb player, will be great for us, but I think he’s probably more like an £80million player. So Arsenal could have potentially overpaid. If you are going to lose a player, for the reason’s I’ve stated above, at least console yourself in the fact you get good money to reinvest. But I have still seen West Ham fans ignore that. That was one of my biggest annoyances when we lost Cesc; his market value at the time was probably closer to around £40million. We got around £29million for him I think. So we lost out captain for around a quarter of his value. West Ham are losing their captain for £20million over his value (for context, Transfermarkt has Rice at €90million / £76.9million. I know that isn’t an exact science, but as a rough benchmark I think it is usually around 10% within the fair market value myself). So why are they still annoyed? If they are sensible they could probably buy two or three really good players and build bigger and better for next season with that money. They could be in an ever better position than they were WITH Rice in the side.

But how about how Arsenal behaved? Has that annoyed the Hammers faithful? Or how Rice has behaved?

Again, I’m struggling to see how, here. The player himself has said nothing. No interviews in the press, no leaks to the media about how he has ‘begged’ West Ham to let him go, nothing. He has played this out as West Ham have wanted and one of the results of that is that they have managed to inflate the price to their asking price, despite the noises coming out now that Rice only wanted to go to The Arsenal, with just a year left on his deal (and yes, I know there was an additional year to extend but that hadn’t been triggered as of when this all started).

But what about Arsenal? Have they behaved poorly? Again, I don’t think so. What we’ve heard is that they waited until after the Europa Conference League final before making our first bid, we bid higher than our club record bid first time, before going back twice more to eventually give West Ham their asking price. This deal has dragged on because Arsenal and West Ham couldn’t agree payment terms, but we’re talking about ONE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS here. That’s a NINE figure sum from a club that aren’t backed by a nation state or oil oligarch. That’s a HUGE sum of money and Arsenal just don’t have that kind of Scrooge McDuck vaults of cash to drop on West Ham’s lap.

Paying in stages is the norm these days too. Todd Boehly has made that and amortisation a common word in the football lexicon these days.

So here we are. I still remain confused with some of the anger of West Ham fans. But maybe it is just a small minority of them online that are raging at their timelines. Perhaps the majority of them are quite ok with what has happened. I have seen some suggest going to City would have been better for them, which I find bizarre, but maybe that is a London thing. But that is another factor as to why Rice wanted to stay; be close to his family and friends.

What are your thoughts on this? And if there’s the odd West Ham fan reading this too, do you have a hatred of Arsenal that is now bigger than CHelsea or the Scum? If you do I’d love to know why.

Catch you all tomorrow.

Quick P.S – last night I did the Same Old Arsenal pod for our summer series of ‘one in, one out, one bangs’. I had Mark and Kevin on and it was great talking to them. Have a watch / listen here if you fancy it.