Rice, Rice baby!

By ballprogression
6 Min Read

We can now safely conclude that Declan Rice will be a new Arsenal player pretty soon, putting an end to a long and drawn out saga which saw Arsenal successfully fend off interest from both Bayern Munich and Manchester City, among other clubs.

Declan Rice is set to be the most expensive Arsenal transfer ever, displacing Nicolas Pepe at the top spot of Arsenal’s incomings. He is also set to become the 2nd most expensive British transfer ever, just a few million short of Enzo Ferandez’s transfer to Chelsea earlier on in the year.

Rice was Arteta’s number one wish and it looks like Kroenke and co. have managed to make the wish come true. Rice is set to become an integral piece of the puzzle in Arteta’s XI, most likely acting in the role of a number six in front of the defence.

What does Declan Rice bring to the table, then?

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Declan Rice brings a unique blend of physicality and technicality combined with leadership abilities and maturity in his game.

Still only 24, the English international has plenty of experience behind him. That was one of the intricacies Arteta was fond of when buying Havertz and Declan is no different. Young players with plenty of games in their legs are something this Arsenal side is built on and we’re looking to keep it that way.

Declan Rice’s on the ball potential is still untapped in my eyes and I feel like that’s something that Arteta will have the biggest impact on. He’s set to go through some “schooling” if he is to play as a number six but he’s got every capacity to be able to do so. I wouldn’t be surprised seeing him higher up the pitch though, with his ball carrying ability a particular strength of his. When he adds “pausa” into his arsenal, it’s Game. Over. You’ll then be looking at a player competing with the absolute elite in his spot. And believe me, he’ll get there.

As for Declan Rice’s immediate impact, I feel like that will for surely be his intensity and duel winning. He’s a powerful figure with an engine to match. I sometimes wonder if that ball carrying of his and such an engine will be less effective deeper but we’ll see how it pans out. His recovery runs and ability to cover big spaces quickly will make Arsenal an even bigger threat when they start squeezing up the pitch. Good luck clearing the ball into a dark hole of Saliba-Rice-Gabriel. You’ll find yourself playing ping pong against a wall.

Tactical Setup

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Declan Rice will have plenty of work in the defensive phase if he really is set to be the sitter in front of Gabriel-Saliba. Havertz was another hefty buy for the club and the general feeling is that he’s come in to replace Xhaka in the starting eleven.

A very attack-minded change but one that will see Rice use most of his capacity to cover for others. That’s where most of his energy will go if he is to “mop up” in behind and sacrifice a little of his game going forward. It’s him that makes that midfield trio work but Havertz is set to go through his own little school in order to hack the position, in that I’m certain.

If Thomas Partey stays (looking more and more likely), I’d be intrigued to see Declan Rice in that left #8 spot as that would replicate what we had going on last season much easier. Both options look very interesting and both could be trialled out next season.

In Conclusion

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Arsenal did well to secure Declan Rice’s signature even if they did pay over the odds. A statement of intent ahead of a promising season. It’s very likely that they circle around the top spot once again next year but leaving an impact in the Champions League after so many years out of the competition shouldn’t be ignored.

We’re back in the big leagues and signings like these are what’s going to keep us in there for many years to come. Couple more signings and who knows what the next season could bring. Exciting times ahead!

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