Declan Rice has revealed that manager Mikel Arteta was a “massive factor” behind his decision to join Arsenal this summer.
After weeks of waiting and fervent daily transfer speculation, the England midfielder finally sealed his blockbuster £105million switch from West Ham to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with Arsenal having agreed the precise payment structure for their new club-record transfer.
Rice – whose high-profile move also represents a record for a transfer between two English clubs – follows Jurrien Timber and Kai Havertz in an early £200m summer spending spree by the Gunners, who were eager for their new signings to be completed as swiftly as possible in this window so they could be allowed maximum time to gel with their new team-mates ahead of a season that they hope will produce another Premier League title challenge as they also return to the Champions League for the first time since 2016/17.
The 24-year-old was delighted to finally wrap up the deal as he trained for the first time at London Colney on Saturday, ahead of the Arsenal squad flying out to the United States on Sunday afternoon for a pre-season tour that includes friendly matches against an MLS All-Star XI, Manchester United and Barcelona.
Speaking in his first interview with Arsenal’s official website, Rice opened up on how the presence of Arteta had played such a key role in his decision to pick Arsenal amid rival interest from the likes of Treble winners Manchester City.
“I’m so excited – he [Arteta] speaks for himself,” Rice said. “You see how he works – you got a real insight into how he works on the Amazon documentary, how he works with his players and not only as a coach, but psychologically how good he is with players, how he improves players. He’s a massive factor in the reason why I’ve come here.
“I know he’s going to get the best out of me. I know I’ve got more levels to go up in my game, and I feel like he’s the manager to take me to those next levels. I’m really excited to be working with him.”
Expanding more on why he was so keen to join Arsenal this summer, Rice added: “I’ve been looking at Arsenal over the last couple of seasons and the trajectory they’ve been going on.
“Not last season but the season before, they finished fifth but you could see the style of play Mikel was implementing. Last season was an outstanding season, blowing pretty much every team out of the water with the exception of Man City.
“With Mikel and how he works, the squad, how young everyone is, the energy around the club and also the challenge of getting Arsenal back to where they belong, that means a lot to me.
“I know the fans really want that. For me as a player, I’ve come here really hungry to have more success and to spend my best years at this great club.” (Standard)