Why Declan Rice won’t be able to wear the no.41 shirt at Arsenal

Arsenal’s newest man may soon be left with a headache

West Ham captain and England star Declan Rice is closing in on a mega-money move to Arsenal, but may not be able to wear his favoured number 41 shirt at his new club.

The Gunners are in the final stages of completing a club record £105m move for the Hammers skipper after fighting off competition from Premier League champions Manchester City for his services, and the Englishman is due to have his medical in north London on Friday.

However, he may not be able to have everything his way at his new club, with the no.41 shirt (the number which he wears for West Ham) potentially unavailable to him for two reasons.

Firstly, someone else already has it. Young talented striker Mika Biereth has been handed the no.41, after his loan at Dutch side RKC Waalwijk expired at the end of the season.

But even if he hadn’t, Arsenal’s own rules and the Premier League’s rules could have stopped him from taking his old West Ham number.

Youth players aside, the Premier League tend to avoid allowing players to take on numbers above 35 (Renato Sanches was once refused the no.85 while at Swansea). As a youth player at West Ham, Rice was allowed to keep the 41 shirt, but at Arsenal that will be a different matter.

The same is true of Arsenal, who prefer to keep their senior players with shirt numbers below 36 (as it stands, Oleksandr Zinchenko has the highest squad number with 35).

So, what numbers could he take? During his time playing for England under Gareth Southgatge, Rice has taken several numbers including 4,5,7,8, 17, and 18.

Of those numbers, only 17 is likely to become available this summer (with Cedric Soares likely to depart), but other options in the Arsenal squad include the number 13 and the number 22 shirts, while the number 12 is likely to become available soon with William Saliba widely reported to be changing to the no.2 shirt when his new contract is announced in the coming weeks.

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Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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