Arsenal: Rice ignoring £105m ‘pressure’ – ‘mind-boggling’ Arteta ‘the best man’ to improve his game

Jason Soutar
Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice during a pre-season friendly against Manchester United.
Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice during a pre-season friendly.

Arsenal new boy Declan Rice says he has “been blown away” by Mikel Arteta and insists he has “not thought about” his £105million price tag.

The Gunners broke their transfer record when they signed Rice from London rivals West Ham United.

The England midfielder has featured in two pre-season friendlies after the deal was confirmed on July 15 and he has opened up on his big-money move.

Speaking to ESPN, Rice said he knows what he has to do to avoid any “negative” noise after Arsenal paid a nine-figure sum to prise him away from the Hammers.

“There is going to be a lot of noise around me, around the transfer, around the price,” Rice said. “But if I keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years that’s got me here, I’m not going to have any problems at all.

“I just need to stay focused and just try to be as relaxed and as open-minded to working as possible.

“I think five years ago I’d be dreaming about where I am now. I don’t actually think about it. It is crazy to think, ‘Yeah okay, I’ve been sold for £100m,’ but I haven’t thought about it once. That’s a price tag that is now attached to me.

“I just try to play football and enjoy myself, I don’t try to put any added pressure on me. Me being myself is what’s got me here. That isn’t going to change now I’m at Arsenal.

“I think it is important that we are constantly open to learning and wanting to improve. At the end, judge me on the price tag then, don’t judge me after two or three weeks. Hopefully at the end, that’s why I’ve come to Arsenal, because I want to be a success and I want this club to be a success.”

READ MORE: All the Premier League completed transfers in the summer window of 2023

Rice spoke glowingly about Arteta, who “is the best man” to elevate his game to a higher level after a brilliant time at West Ham.

“I don’t think it is just what he said, to be honest,” Rice added. “I’ve been watching Arsenal in the last two or three years since he’s taken over, and even in his first year, you could see what he was trying to build.

“The year after that they finished fifth and then last year they obviously finished second, but the trajectory of what they’ve been doing, how he wants to play and speaking to a few of the players on how they’ve improved … after I’d spoken to him as well, it was everything that I wanted, really.

“I’m 24, like I’ve said all along, you only get one career.

“I’ve got a couple more stages that I can get to in terms of my improvement. I feel like he is the best man to do that.

“Already in the 10 days I’ve been here, I’m seeing football in a different way. I’m seeing the game completely different, learning different things every day. That’s what I want to do, I want to test myself. That’s why we play football, that’s why we want to improve.”

Rice also spoke to The Telegraph, telling journalist Sam Dean: “Speaking to a few of the lads at England, just asking what the general setup is like, what the manager is like, the first thing they all said was how much they improved.

“When you hear that without seeing it, you think ‘that is interesting’. But when you get here and you see how he actually is, it is mind-boggling.

“Genuinely, in the last 10 days I have been blown away by how he is constantly thinking about football, how he is so oriented to win. How everyone is all in the same direction to win, to be together.”

Rice added: “I know I was bought for £105 million. But I have not thought about it once. I don’t decide the price. I just play football.

“What got me here is my quality, what I have done for West Ham, and that is not going to change. Don’t judge me over one year, judge me over six.”

READ MORE: Transfer Alternative XI: Arsenal and Spurs blessings in disguise up front with Watkins