Owen Hargreaves has now sent Arsenal an ‘interesting’ claim about Declan Rice and has also given Gunners manager Mikel Arteta some key advice about the new signing.
West Ham United agreed to sell their captain to Arsenal in July as the Emirates Stadium club made Rice their new record transfer. The north Londoners paid their capital rivals an upfront £100m for the 24-year-old. Add-ons can take the fee to £105m over Rice’s five-year terms.
Rice left the London Stadium after six years having broken through from the Irons’ academy under Slaven Bilic in 2017. He went on to play 245 games for the Hammers and also penned 15 goals and 13 assists. But Rice finds the difference between Arsenal and West Ham ‘crazy’.
Arsenal secured Declan Rice’s transfer despite Gary Neville’s concerns at West Ham
Rice initially featured as a centre-half after breaking through from West Ham’s youth squads. But he established a reputation as one of the Premier League’s top midfielders after moving into the Irons’ engine room. England boss Gareth Southgate also relishes what Rice delivers.
Yet while Rice excels at screening a defence and conducting an engine room, he faced some criticism for not scoring regularly for West Ham. Gary Neville told Sky Sports this March that while ‘I love Declan Rice’, he felt ‘he doesn’t score or assist enough goals’ to be world-class.
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Of Rice’s offensive output in claret-and-blue that tempted Arsenal to secure his transfer, the West Ham product bagged 10 goals and 10 assists in 204 career Premier League fixtures. He further offered four of his goals and two of his assists in 37 games in the 2022/23 campaign.
David Moyes afforded Rice a greater box-to-box presence over the 22/23 season. He came to relish the decision as the 43-cap anchor also scored once as the Irons went on to win the Europa Conference League. Moyes gave Rice greater freedom for his powerful surging runs.
Owen Hargreaves makes an ‘interesting’ claim about Declan Rice under Mikel Arteta
Criticism of Rice for not offering a prolific output at West Ham perplexes Hargreaves, who is confident that Arsenal have made an ‘amazing’ signing. The former England and Manchester United midfielder also believes Rice can play any role Arteta wants him to with the Gunners.
“It’s interesting,” Hargreaves told talkSPORT. “A lot of people were criticising him, saying that he didn’t have enough goals, whatever. But I think Declan, in the team that he played in, did an amazing job.
“Because they played a little bit deeper, they didn’t have as much possession. It was hard for him to get into the box. I think Declan can be whatever you need him to be. And I think he’s an amazing addition.”