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Will Declan Rice Live Up To His £105m Price Tag At Arsenal?

After months of speculation, Arsenal have finally got their man. The hierarchy at the Emirates have been busy this summer, bringing in Kai Havertz from Chelsea for £65 million and Jurrien Timber from Ajax for a further £40m, but the player the Gunners’ supporters arguably wanted to see donning the club’s iconic strip the most was Declan Rice. 

That dream finally became a reality on July 16, with Arsenal confirming the transfer of the England midfielder for a club record fee of £105m — making the 24-year-old the second most expensive player in Premier League history behind Chelsea’s Enzo Fernandez, who cost the Blues £106.5m back in January following his World Cup success with Argentina. 

With such a big price tag comes a lot of expectation and we have seen many football players fail to deliver when bogged down by massive transfer fees. Of course, that’s not the case for everyone, and there is a good chance Rice could prove pivotal to Arsenal carrying on their upward trajectory under Mikel Arteta next season and for years to come. 

The Gunners held the top spot for the majority of last season but ultimately crumbled under the consistent pressure of serial winners Manchester City and ended up finishing five points behind Pep Guardiola’s treble champions. The Kroenke family and the Arsenal board are proving they intend to challenge again next season with Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber also arriving for a combined £105m.

Arsenal looked nailed on for a Champions League spot in the Premier League top 4 odds, but they will be keen for more than that after last season’s efforts and Rice could be the key to the North London side progressing further under Arteta. The aforementioned Havertz and Timber could prove to be good signings, but Rice is the marquee signing of the summer — the one Arteta wanted the most.

It’s clear to see why too. At 24 years of age, Rice fits the bill of Arsenal’s youth-driven transfer strategy of recent years perfectly and Arteta is keen to keep going down that route after last season’s success. With 204 Premier League appearances for West Ham, there are few players of Rice’s age with as much experience and he also captained the Hammers to Europa Conference League success last season.

While the new UEFA competition is considered the third tier of Europe’s three main continental club tournaments, it was still a monumental moment in West Ham’s history as it was their first piece of silverware since winning the FA Cup in 1980 and their first European trophy since 1965 — and Rice was at the heart of that success by wearing the armband. 

The midfielder has also started all 12 of England’s games at the recent European Championships and World Cup, helping the Three Lions reach the final of the former as the hosts were excruciatingly beaten on penalties by Italy at Wembley Stadium before being knocked out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals by France last winter. 

With long-time servant and former club captain Granit Xhaka ending his love-hate relationship with the fans after seven years at the end of last season, filling the No.6 role with a younger and more suitable replacement was central to Arteta’s plans this summer and the Spaniard will be incredibly happy to get the deal over the line ahead of their tour of the United States. 

It’s not just his ability on the pitch that made Rice Arsenal’s prime target this off-season either. Arteta is also impressed by his ability to lift the levels of his teammates, saying: “I see him like a lighthouse, that he is willing to put light in others and improve others and make the team better and that is a huge quality.

“For me, to be a midfielder you have to have that and he’s got it 100 per cent. The way he talks and presents himself, the ambition he has and the passion towards the game. That is exactly what we needed.

“It’s his leadership, his aura, the experience he already has in the league he is going to bring and the team to a different dimension I think.”