Declan Rice at £105 million: Worth Every Goddamn Penny
We are winding down on the final international break of 2023, with Leandro Trossard being the only Gunner getting some action yesterday, scoring in Belgium’s 5-0 win over Azerbaijan. David Raya returned to the bench in Spain’s 3-1 win over Georgia, and today’s action will see a crunch clash between Oleksandr Zinchenko’s Ukraine taking on Italy’s Jorginho. With both teams tied on 13 points, Italy needs only a draw to qualify, while Ukraine will need three points to ensure that the defending champions will not be around to actually defend their trophy next summer.
Italy has had their fair share of disappointments in recent tournaments, with the Azzurri failing to even qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, so the onus will be on the team to battle hard against Ukraine to earn a right to play in Euro 2024.
A team that wouldn’t have such a problem is England, with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions sitting pretty at the top of Group C with 19 points, and they have a dead rubber clash against North Macedonia this evening. I can only seat here and hope that Southgate will be sensible enough not to risk the likes of Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice in such a match, as Arsenal would need them for the run-in to the end of the year.
Rice’s importance, alongside the talismanic Saka are immense to everything Arsenal does, and with Thomas Partey out of action for the considerable future, Rice is an essential cog in the midfield engine for Mikel Arteta. The English midfielder was on an interview with the Times, and touched on his mammoth price tag that brought him to the club,
“When the transfer was going through I was very nervous because of the price tag. It’s natural to think about that. You’re a human being bought for £105 million, it doesn’t feel very normal. But that was because of what I’d done at West Ham, what they valued me at.
When I signed for Arsenal, I thought I just need to be Declan Rice, be myself, don’t be any different, everything will go smoothly.”
Say what you can about the amount it cost to bring Rice to the club, but when you compare it to what Manchester United paid for Antony or what Chelsea bullied Arsenal to pay for Mykhailo Mudryk, it’s a no brainer. The absence of Thomas Partey in Arsenal’s midfield played a significant role in the Gunners missing out of Champions League qualification two seasons ago, as Mo Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga couldn’t fill his enormous shoes, but Rice’s domineering performances and presence in the midfield this season has eased the blow caused by Partey’s continuous absence, which is no mean feat.
Yes, I have always believed that he was an outstanding player from watching him play for a defensive side like West Ham, but seeing him at Arsenal has made all the difference as his style of football is a perfect match for what Arteta wants in his midfield – strength, guile, grit, ball progression and some downright amazing anticipation skills. Last season, Granit Xhaka was the undisputed No. 8 while Partey was the defensive lynchpin who featured as the No. 6. Rice is an amazing mix of position, playing both positions this season based on the tactical setup by his gaffer.
Even in some games this season where the team stunk up the place, Rice continues to give 110 percent and make his presence felt. Then there have been the rare but absolutely vital goals – the match clincher against Manchester United at the Emirates late on, and the lifeline he offered in Stamford Bridge, curling the ball into the net from quite some distance.
He also has amazing fitness levels which he combines with some much-needed consistency on the pitch. At just 24, he fits into the age profile of the club and will someday be the captain of this club because of his top-notch leadership qualities both on and off the pitch.
I don’t know about you, but 105 million quid for Declan Rice was worth every goddamn penny.
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