Arteta: Rice can be our ‘lighthouse’

Declan Rice all smiles in training in USA

Mikel Arteta has outlined exactly what he expects from Declan Rice, as his new signing joined in training with his teammates for the first time.

The England midfielder completed his high-profile transfer on Saturday, and on Monday he began work with the rest of the squad on the Washington leg of our pre-season tour.

When asked what qualities Rice will bring to the Arsenal side, the boss said: “His leadership, his aura, obviously the experience he already has in this league. He’s going to bring the team to a different dimension.

“He’s got the physical qualities that we’ve been missing for a while, that’s why we had to do what we had to do to get him, because he’s really important for us.

“A while ago we spoke about players that could complement each other, give us more flexibility, more depth and more quality, and take a winning hunger into the team with players who really want to push themselves to a different level.

“I see him like a lighthouse, he will light (up) the others and improve the others, and make the team better. The way he talks, the ambition he has and the passion for the game is exactly what we need.”

The manager agreed that after such a high-profile transfer, the pressure and expectation on the team to improve on last season’s second-place finish will intensify.

“We know that," he said, "but at the end it will be about playing better and earning the right to win every single match the way we play. In order to do that there are things we have to improve and work on in pre-season and that’s what we are doing.

“For sure, after what we did last year I think a lot of people are going to ask what’s next. We have made some important signings, like the other teams are doing as well. We are Arsenal and you have to handle that, that’s for sure.”

England midfielder Rice became our third new arrival this summer, following the recruitment of Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber, and the manager said he was delighted to have concluded that business at the start of pre-season.

“That was the objective when we started to discuss things and our targets,” he said. “Obviously that’s difficult to achieve, and the club has done tremendously well. It’s great because it gives us time to prepare in the right way.

“Every transfer window we are trying to do that, and every season we are trying to develop our players to a level, and when we don’t reach that level, we have to recruit. What we have done this summer improves the squad significantly.”

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