When Do You Want Your Rice? January or the Summer
It has been very evident that Arsenal has been in dire need of a defensive midfielder following the departures of Francis Coquelin and Robert Song Billong, and with the Unai Emery Era came the acquisition of a certain Lucas Torreira who showed the combative grit, brawn and determination expected from a specialist defensive midfielder, but he fell out of favor with Emery, who preferred his shaggy-haired pet from Lorient, Matteo Guendouzi.
Emery left the Emirates in disgrace, and the new gaffer, Mikel Arteta, met a team on the trenches, and with Torreira injured and out of favor, as well as Guendouzi falling out with the boss, Granit Xhaka was the only defensive alternative till the Gunners activated Thomas Partey’s release clause and brought him to the Emirates, much to the delight of the Arsenal faithful. Partey has always been a player of great ability and abinibi, but the major challenge everyone associated with Arsenal had with him was his inability to stay fit.
Prior to joining Arsenal from Atletico Madrid, Partey had incredibly missed only six games in Spain, featuring in over 200 matches for both Atletico and Ghana. In three seasons with Simeone playing consistent Satanball, Partey made 50, 42 and 46 appearances for the Madrid-based outfit. At Arsenal, he suffered muscle injuries, hip injuries, groin injuries, ankle injuries, thigh injuries, recurrent thigh injuries and yes, some more recurrent thigh injuries.
Arsenal had to manage without their star defensive midfielder for a considerable chunk of the campaign, deploying the likes of Mohamed Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga, but losing Partey played a contributory role to Arsenal’s Champions League qualification capitulation in the tail end of last season.
Partey worked his way to full fitness and has grown to be an extremely vital cog in the Arsenal midfield engine, and his overall play has been downright exceptional. He dominates his opposition, dictates tempo, developed a sweet passing range, possesses awesome technique and his shooting has been very, very sumptuous. This means that Arsenal has to manage his minutes in the course of the season, and while Elneny seems to be a safe option that takes the calmer side passing approach Jorginho would be proud of, Sambi Lokonga doesn’t seem like he’s ready for the big time.
Which brings us to the meat of today’s article. According to the Mirror, Arsenal is interested in signing Declan Rice from West Ham United. Rice is one of the biggest names in English football and one of the best defensive midfielders currently in the business. He had a good World Cup, he’s home grown and he will be a massive upgrade on Elneny and Lokonga. With Elneny probably unlikely to get a contract extension and Sambi Lokonga probably going to be loaned out for more experience or even sold, having a player like Rice will be a great addition to the team
Having Rice would also mean that Arteta can change his tactical approach for specific games, and his versatility as a center back can come into play in the scenario of an injury crisis at the back.
The million dollar question would be – when do you want your Rice? First things first, Rice would cost a shit load of money, but with West Ham languishing in the relegation zone, his transfer fee might not be as much as we expect. However, will Arsenal ideally go for Rice in the January transfer window, or will he be the marquee signing for the summer? Will Rice himself want to leave West Ham in their time of need, or will be want to give his all to the club for one final campaign before saying his goodbyes in May?
Rice will also fit the current profile of the Arsenal recruitment policy and he will be expected to blend in with the current squad, as most of the players are in similar ages. He also admires how Arsenal play their football and he will be itching to be a part of the project.
Let’s just hope Todd ‘Bully’ Boehly isn’t looking at this though.