Mikel Arteta feels that creating the right environment for Declan Rice to shine will be crucial in getting the best out of him - and our team - this coming season.
The England midfielder has quickly impressed his new manager since arriving from West Ham United, and is set to make his competitive bow for us at Wembley in the Community Shield against Manchester City on the weekend.
And Mikel feels that a player of his calibre needs to feel comfortable on and off the field to allow for the best possible performances, but doesn’t feel the need to rush him into a position of leadership so soon after his arrival, despite being blown away by his natural ability in that area.
Speaking about what he has made of his new recruit so far, Mikel said: “He is a player that is already excellent, so we have to make sure that we don’t make him worse!
“We want him to put on the quality and abilities that he has and let him express his personality and the way he thinks about the game in the right way. If we can help him with a few things, that’s what we will try to do, but we’ll try to accommodate his qualities into the team to be better.
“His leadership skills are unquestionable. When you meet him and you spend the first five minutes with him, you get the feeling and impression that he’s someone who is going to help so much, with the dressing room and the approach that we want to take into games and have the initiative in our way of living. Things take time and they have to be natural, but if it has to happen, it will happen.”
If newspaper speculation is to be believed, it could have been the case that Declan could have been in the opposition’s line-up at the national stadium on Sunday, with West Ham turning down a transfer offer from the reigning Treble winners.
However, Mikel was just pleased that his attempts to woo him to the club worked, and feels that our upward trajectory, youthful squad packed with potential plus the allure of Champions League football is a great mix to try and persuade new recruits that their futures lie in north London.
Detailing how we managed to land Declan, he added: “We just explained our thoughts on him, the project we’re building, and what his role was going to be in the club and in the team. We got into that very much on day one with him and his family as well, and we are delighted to have him.
“I think the important thing is that we have a target and we have the resources that we need to bring a target in, but as well that we can convince him and tell him things that excite him, that he feels inspired and that he wants to be a part of it.
“That’s the feeling that we are getting with every player that we want to sign, but as well with the players that we already have here. They’re the ones that we really have to look after with that feeling and willingness to be here and drive the club to be better every single day, and for them as players, improve every day as well.”
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