Former England star Wayne Rooney has given his verdict on one of Mikel Arteta’s new signings at Arsenal, backing the player to have a colossal impact and emerge into a ‘leader’ at the Emirates.
Arsenal have made three big signings so far this summer, with Kai Havertz, Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber all becoming part of Arteta’s squad. Arsenal spent £65million when capturing German forward Havertz from London rivals Chelsea.
Rice followed Havertz to Arsenal by penning a five-year deal with the club on July 15. Arsenal have paid West Ham an initial £100m, and the deal could rise by a further £5m depending on add-ons. The midfielder has therefore become the second-most expensive Premier League player of all time, behind only Chelsea’s Enzo Fernandez.
Arsenal have also improved their defensive ranks by landing Netherlands star Timber from Ajax. Timber, who can play as a centre-half or right-back, cost Arsenal an initial £34.2m. Arteta’s side will owe Ajax an extra £4.3m if certain bonus clauses are met.
All three of Arsenal’s new recruits featured in the 5-0 victory over MLS All-Stars earlier on Thursday. While Havertz got on the scoresheet, it was former West Ham captain Rice who received praise from MLS All-Stars manager Rooney, who usually coaches D.C United.
During an interview with Press Association (via Goal), the Manchester United legend mentioned Frank Lampard as he tipped Rice to have a massive influence on Arsenal.
“I think could be the one who could… well, he has to be the leader now, really, I think of that Arsenal team,” Rooney said.
“I saw Frank Lampard saying he felt Declan could be the Chelsea captain for the next 10 years if he went there. I think he can do that [for Arsenal] and he seems to have that character and I believe he will be a huge player for Arsenal.”
Rice will be delighted at big Rooney prediction
Having captained West Ham following Mark Noble’s retirement, despite being only 24 years old, Rice would probably like to take up a similar leadership role at Arsenal. The only trouble is that midfield partner Martin Odegaard is the current skipper and he is not going anywhere, as he is the same age as Rice.
It is clear that having Rice in the team will benefit Arsenal hugely. He is a brilliant defensive midfielder who can break up opposition attacks either through sliding tackles or intercepting passes. But it is not just this aspect that Arteta will be relying on – the coach will aim to help Rice improve when going forward.
The England international has shown glimpses of what he can do in the final third, but there is still work to be done before Arteta makes him a truly world-class midfielder.