Arteta on Rice: ‘When he talks, people listen and pay attention’

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes Declan Rice has ‘got every skill’ to be a leader after a great start to his Gunners career.

The England international has starred for Arteta’s side since his £105 million transfer to Arsenal from West Ham in the summer. Rice has been a part of an Arsenal side that has challenged at the top of the Premier League all season, with the midfielder also performing well in the Champions League for his new side.

Rice has had to fill the void left by midfield partner Thomas Partey for a large part of the campaign due to the Ghanaian’s prolonged injury. However that has not deterred the 25-year-old, who has gelled almost immediately with the squad and proved to be a leader within the side.

Gunners boss Arteta has been delighted with the impact of the former West Ham captain, despite the steep price tag: “We were expecting the best obviously because we paid big money and we knew the player. Something else is the way he has fit in and how loved and respected he already is at the club, in the team.

“The performances he has put in every week, he has been one of the most consistent players this season and especially in big, big games he has been incredibly strong for us. We are delighted to have him.

“He is a very mature and confident person, especially for his age. But he has done a lot in the game as well.”

Rice has proved to be an influential leader within the Arsenal team, having had two seasons as West Ham’s captain prior to his move to north London and is set to come up against his former club on Sunday,

Arteta believes the Englishman’s upbringing and professionalism have been one of the main reasons behind his excellent start to life at his new club: “He has done it through an academy and an education, in my opinion, is one of the best in the country,” he added.

“He has got an environment, a family, that is very supportive but as well very demanding of him and he has dealt with that in a great way.

“He has been captain at youth level, he has been captain for West Ham and he is one that sometimes doesn’t need to have the armband.

“When he talks, people listen and pay attention – and he has got the natural ability to do that.”

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