Arsenal You have clear areas to address in the two 2023 transfer windows when it comes to squad depth.
The need for reinforcements on a large scale took priority this month, with the pursuit of them failing Mykhailo Modric and sign Leandro Trossard. Central midfield is next on the agenda given the huge drop in the first-choice trio Martin OdegaardAnd Thomas Partey And Granite Shaka And The second series who are sent off whenever Mikel Arteta rotates his side.
This was demonstrated in the club Planning a summer move for Declan Rice at West Hama transfer that would make sense for them on a few fronts.
Most importantly, regular England Rice, 24, will add to her depth in midfield. Mohamed Elneny A consistent player, as his 93 caps for Egypt would suggest, but he will turn 31 in July Albert Sambi Lukonga, 23, often fails to impress in matches when he plays. In contrast, Rice is likely to contest the starting spot.
Arsenal have tried to bolster their midfield the past two summers, after Bids rejected for Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz In 2022 thereafter Show interest in Ruben Neves of Wolves a year ago.
The strategy in 2021 was to sign players under the age of 23, allowing them to grow at the club. This is the window when Lokonga, then 21, arrived from Anderlecht. But the next step in Arsenal’s development has become clear: recruiting players in their mid-twenties who add quality and experience and are ready to make a real impact on their team.
Gabriel Jesusand 25 y Oleksandr Zinchenko26 years old now but 25 when he signed, examples from summer.
Rice turned 24 on January 14 and she has already done so 187 matches in the English Premier League and its captain West Ham to me European League semi final. Moreover, he has started all England matches in Euro 2020 and World Cup 2022.
Before we delve into how Rice’s traits fit stylistically with the league leaders, some context is key.
The turn of the box to the box he usually plays in a pair with Thomas Suchek For West Ham he hasn’t been repeated at Arsenal, but he has played sixth in a midfield three lately at club level and also tends to do so for England. Some of the strengths he displays at West Ham will be transferable to Arsenal’s way of playing, but some of the demands on him may differ.
Rice’s biggest strengths are his athleticism and defensive awareness. It will be needed, whether used in a square-to-square pairing or as a number 6, especially at Arsenal.
As Tifo’s John McKenzie explained earlier this season, “Comfort Defence” for Arsenal It’s set up to stifle teams in their own half while leaving spaces wide where fullbacks are positioned. Often, it will be the center back or the number 6 player who rushes out to quickly stop the counters when possession is lost.
This is where Rice excels.
Take this example from September Premier League A trip to Everton, as West Ham were stripped during the attack. Midfielder Alex IwobiHis first action is to play the ball to the halfway point, while his orange and blue counterparts are still playing the ball everton province.
Having regained his position, Rice does not sink right away. rather than turn to engage Neil Maupay On the ball, he looks at the space Everton will try to exploit (to the left of West Ham’s stretched defence) Amadou Onana (from Rice passed to reach the position shown below) ready to join the attack.
He covers well, anticipates the pass and is ready to make a tackle when the ball reaches Onana, stopping the attack before it really begins.
As Arsenal become more dominant in matches, the players’ ability to read the play in such situations will become more important.
This is something Rice already does on a regular basis and extends beyond just timing his tackles well when left exposed in midfield.
He is the player with the most recoveries (loose balls recovered) in the Premier League this season (181, with Manchester City’s Rodri second with 177 and Arsenal’s William Saliba third with 156) and second for interceptions (32). . Chick Doucoure from Crystal Palace (34).
What really sets it apart is what happens After, after make such interventions.
a way to Manchester city Last season, he’s already on the move as Jesus makes his pass…
…and intercept before Ilkay Gundogan easily as a result.
His first instinct after possession is to push forward, but without any support he does a good job of dribbling off pressure and moving the ball around.
West Ham could settle the ball – something Arsenal have tended to do this season – rather than allow play to become a frenzied have-you-have-we-attack scenario, like a game of basketball.
However, if Rice feels there is an opportunity to move on, he will go.
He did this for England vs France In the quarter-finals of the World Cup last month to set up a counter-attack after winning the ball in the middle of the road. Arsenal fans may also remember his run in the middle of the field against them in the 3-3 draw at the London Stadium in March 2021.
A powerful player, the Englishman supports himself to carry the ball forward. This may be the biggest stylistic contrast between him (playing more box-to-box) and Arsenal’s starting number 6 as Partey is more of a distributor than this position.
since the start of last season, Cedar has the highest number of carrying distances (1,032) and the highest total carrying distance (11,729 metres). in the Premier League. Unsurprisingly, most of his progressive passing is in the middle third, where he makes more work than the ball to move West Ham up the field. His tally of 556 ranks sixth in the NL since the start of last season but first among quarterbacks, while his 175 ranks seventh this season – first for quarterbacks again.
When the 24-year-old performs these duties, his precise control is often under the radar. Whether it’s moving the ball quickly on the run before shooting or passing it wide, or to make room for himself at the start of the dribble, it’s an area of his game that helps in those areas.
Given that Arsenal also use a midfielder in Xhaka, it could also provide some tactical flexibility in terms of how they set up their midfield.
At first glance, what Rice does with the ball may cause reservations when viewed through an Arsenal lens.
passes to the last third more or less regularly, With 154 tries successful from 191 attempts (5th most in the Premier League this season)And But these tend to be substitution play to the full-back opposite West Ham.
This seems to be the option to move rather than play across the lines, something Arsenal players do across the pitch, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do it.
England focused more on this with him as No. 6, which was evident in that world Cup loss to France.
After recovering a lost pass, Rice fired a nice forehand volley at it Phil Foden.
When Foden bounced the ball back to him, he assessed the situation and slipped a pass through a congested area of the field to To Harry Kane (outside the frame in the following screenshot).
Ken has Jude Bellingham He runs away from it, but fails to pass it on to Borussia Dortmund Midfielder.
Twice in quick succession, Rice looked to advance the ball and found his man on both occasions. Not every pass he plays in an England shirt is like this, but moments like the one above show us he can do it.
One aspect of Barty’s play that has made him important this season is his press resistance. was key Martin Odegaard goal against Tottenham Hotspur This month he knocked three players out of the game with one touch. Whether that can be repeated will be another question for Rice, or any other target for Arsenal’s midfield.
As with line-breaking passes, this isn’t something Rice does on a weekly basis but he’s shown glimpses of it internationally.
Once again, the France game provides a case in point.
Harry Maguire He passes it in the middle of the road…
… Rice moves toward the ball but controls his back foot, opening for a turn.
Antoine Griezmann He jumps in the first move and Rice is able to close in on France’s half unchallenged, before England attack on the right.
If Arsenal’s interest is to end in a transfer, Arteta will want those traits to become more apparent.
As far as goals go, Rice makes sense for the Premier League leaders.
On the field, he excels in areas that not all midfielders can, while his limitations look like they could be improved upon. Off the pitch, he fits the direction Arsenal are heading in, with room for performance in the short term but also for improvement in the longer term.
January will definitely be too early for any concrete developments. However, both the player and the club are getting closer to their common goals by playing in the Champions League And find what is required of them at this level.
For Arsenal, this means a deeply competitive side. For Rice, it will be an opportunity to continue raising his game.
(Top photo: George Wood/Getty Images)