Declan Rice admits even he would not expect Leandro Trossard to be the Arsenal star the midfielder has grown closest to since securing his transfer from West Ham United.
The 24-year-old has named Trossard as the surprising member of the Gunners squad he has established an early connection with. Rice has also outlined the ‘crazy’ difference that he has already noticed since joining Arsenal from West Ham whilst now speaking with Sky Sports.
Arsenal paid West Ham an initial £100m, rising up to £105m with add-ons, to also make Rice their club-record singing. He left the Hammers after six years of first-team football following his debut in May 2017. Rice also left the Irons as their latest European cup-winning captain.
Arsenal united Rice and Trossard with the West Ham captain’s transfer
Rice led West Ham to Europa Conference League glory in 2022/23 in his first season as their full-time captain. He had already acted as the Hammers’ vice-captain since 2020 but gained the armband entirely after Mark Noble retired. Rice first captained West Ham back in 2019.
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Yet through his six years in the West Ham first-team, Rice only met Trossard seven times for Premier League fixtures. Six of their encounters came whilst Trossard played for Brighton & Hove Albion. While they also met once following the Belgian’s transfer to Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal paid Brighton £20m, rising to £27m, to sign Trossard in January to strengthen Mikel Arteta’s squad. But he could not help the Gunners hold on to a 2-0 lead at London Stadium come April. The Hammers came back from their 10th-minute deficit to rescue a 2-2 draw.
It was the sixth time that Rice had featured in a West Ham line-up that drew with a team in which Trossard featured. He never managed to claim a win over the winger whilst with the Hammers. Brighton edged the Irons once with Trossard scoring in a 2-0 win in August 2022.
Rice explains his surprise relationship with Trossard at the Gunners
Yet despite their infrequent encounters over the years, Rice has now named Trossard as the player he has grown closest to since securing his transfer to Arsenal from West Ham in July.
“You know what? I think from the first day when I was there, Leandro Trossard,” Rice noted. “You wouldn’t put us two together, I would say. But he’s a really, really top guy. I sat next to him on the plane [and] I’ve been with him here quite a lot. He’s just an all-round top person.
“I’ve really got on with him and playing against him in the past as well, he was always a pain. So, it’s nice to have him on my side now. He’s such a top player.
“But I feel like with everyone here, like all of the Brazilian guys, the Portuguese guys, the French guys, like everyone is so top. And from the outside, you see Arsenal was like a big family together. And that’s exactly what it is inside the dressing room, which is really good.”