The West Ham United midfielder will likely be in high demand in the coming months after establishing himself with England off the back of his impressive form with the Hammers.
Rice came up with the Blues academy, forging a close friendship with Mason Mount before pursuing a different route in claret and blue.
And former Gunners star Merson believes Rice should be a priority for his former side to deny Rice a return to Stamford Bridge.
“Chelsea have been linked with him, but I don’t know why Arsenal aren’t looking at Declan Rice,” Merson said in his Sky Sports column. “Arsenal are crying out for a holding midfield player.
“They don’t need a midfielder who’s going to be on the edge of the opposition box, they need a disciplined defensive midfielder, who is going to sit in front of the back four and organise the side; one who, when he gets the ball, gives it simple with 10-yard passes.
“When you look back at the likes of Roy Keane later in his career and Claude Makelele, they were the best because they never got involved. They just did the simple things. For me, a good holding midfielder is priceless.”