Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has praised Declan Rice for quickly finding his feet at the Emirates following his club record 105 million pounds ($130.12 million) transfer in the close season.
Rice’s move from West Ham United in July meant the England international had pre-season with Arsenal, and he has been impressive in central midfield, having played every minute of their Premier League campaign so far.
The 24-year-old has been an instant hit and won Arsenal’s Player of the Month award for August, while his first goal for the club was a late winner against old rivals Manchester United earlier this month.
“You always hope that transition is going to be smooth and fast, but sometimes the reality is very different,” Arteta told reporters on Friday, ahead of Sunday’s league trip to Everton.
“In his case, it has been really positive, he’s finding it really easy. He understood the team, our way of playing really, really fast and things are going well for him.”
While Rice has settled down at Arsenal, its previous record signing Nicolas Pepe has been moved on with the club terminating the contract of the Ivory Coast international who cost 72 million pounds in 2019.
Pepe helped Arsenal win the FA Cup in 2020 but soon found playing time limited under Arteta. He left Arsenal having scored 27 goals in 112 games and joined Trabzonspor on a free transfer.
“I wasn’t involved in that deal, but what I can say about him as a person is that he’s a phenomenal boy, he tried really hard. It’s not his fault the amount of money that we paid at the time,” Arteta said.
“When things are not working out, you have to move on... That decision was made and I think it was for the benefit of both parties.”
Arteta said winger Bukayo Saka “trained normally” amid concerns over a possible Achilles injury, while the Spaniard added that Arsenal are looking to extend the contract of skipper Martin Odegaard, whose current deal expires in June 2025.
“He’s our captain, he’s a massive player for us. He’s really important for now and the future. We want to keep him here for a long time,” Arteta said. “I’m always optimistic. We’re really close (to a new deal) with him and his agent.”
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