Declan Rice Arsenal transfer: How Gunners could line up with ex-Chelsea youth

It has been a whirlwind year for London clubs so far, with Declan Rice moving to Arsenal being the latest big talking point.

Chelsea splashed over €600 million in the transfer market, West Ham won the Europa Conference League and Arsenal challenged the might of Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Despite splurging in every direction, the Blues finished in a dismal 12th position and are going through yet another rebuild. Arsenal profited from the situation and convinced Kai Havertz to move from the West to the North of the English capital.

It was a statement signing. Securing a disgruntled top talent from a direct rival. However, Edu and Mikel Arteta have no plans of stopping and showed their clear intent on disrupting the established hierarchy.

Man City transfer target Declan Rice
Photo by Icon Sport

Rice was always supposed to return to Chelsea. A reunion with the club where he spent his formative years. Upheaval at Stamford Bridge allowed the Gunners to sneak in and they grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

A big fee of £105 million was enough to convince the Hammers to part company with their captain and the England international will join the growing list of stars at the Emirates Stadium. Pep Guardiola threw the gauntlet for everyone to challenge City's supremacy in England and it seems Arteta is readying to push the Sky Blues further this time around.

Declan Rice's playing style

The 24-year-old is known for his tenacity, strong tackling, and combative aerial ability. One of his key strengths is his ability to spot danger, making him exceptional at winning the ball back and protecting his team's defence. He covers a lot of ground, making both tackles and interceptions in significant numbers, which helps disrupt opponents' attacks.

What sets Rice apart is his two-footedness, allowing him to jockey opponents in either direction and turn and sprint either way if they try to beat him for pace. This makes him challenging to beat one-on-one, and he can slow down attacks, giving his teammates valuable time to recover. Besides excelling in defence, Rice also plays a vital role in transitioning the team into attack with forward passes during established periods of possession.

While he is primarily known for his defensive abilities, Rice has shown signs of greater attacking prowess when given the opportunity. His ability to carry the ball forward and make progressive carries towards the opposition goal is noteworthy, demonstrating his versatility on the pitch.

Comparing Rice to other defensive midfielders, he stands out due to his ability to play as a central defender, providing additional tactical flexibility. His unusual playing style has garnered interest from top clubs in Europe, and he is considered one of the most promising young players in his position.

Declan Rice's role in Arsenal's XI

Declan Rice
Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images – Icon sport

Playing as #6

The arriving West Ham captain is expected to be deployed as a number 6 at Arsenal, taking over the role previously held by the outgoing Granit Xhaka, who was a regular in that position during the 2022/23 campaign. With the Swiss earning a return to Germany, Arteta will have an improvement on his hands for the coming season.

Rice's defensive prowess and ability to control the midfield make him well-suited to assume the responsibilities of a holding midfielder in the Gunners' lineup. By stepping into the number 6 role, the Kingston upon Thames native will provide stability and assurance to the Gunners' defensive line while offering a solid foundation for launching attacks.

Not only does Rice bring exceptional defensive skills and versatility to the team, but he also possesses strong leadership qualities. Despite his young age, Rice has demonstrated maturity and composure on the pitch, earning the captaincy at West Ham United and representing England at international level.

Playing as #8

In addition to his potential deployment as a number 6, the 43-time capped England international's skill set also makes him a viable option as a box-to-box midfielder for Arsenal. With his ability to cover the pitch extensively, Rice can contribute both defensively and offensively while ensuring the team's defensive solidity remains intact.

His work rate and stamina allow him to make crucial tackles and interceptions and provide defensive cover when needed. Moreover, Rice's passing ability and vision enable him to distribute the ball effectively and initiate attacking moves from deep positions.

Declan Rice
Photo by Icon Sport

By deploying him as a number 8, Arteta can benefit from his tireless presence in midfield. The Hammers got used to seeing him tirelessly track back to provide defensive support and swiftly transition into attack to contribute to goal-scoring opportunities. The Gunners faithful will surely admire this part of playing style. This flexibility in his positional play showcases Rice's adaptability and highlights his value as a dynamic and well-rounded midfielder for the Gunners.