Declan Rice reached another career landmark in midweek. While he has previously showcased charisma, such as captaining West Ham United to their first major trophy in a generation, being promoted to England’s leadership group outlined a coming-of-age moment.
The first step, many feel, to becoming captain for club and country. That is exactly what Wayne Rooney — a man who skippered Manchester United and England — expected of Rice when he arrived at Arsenal for £105million.
«He has to be the leader of that Arsenal team now,» he said. «I saw Frank Lampard saying he felt Declan could be the Chelsea captain for the next 10 years if he went there. I think he can do that [for Arsenal] and he seems to have that character and I believe he will be a huge player for Arsenal.»
Mikel Arteta brought him in to do exactly that. Many scoffed at the price tag but, at 24, the Gunners signed a player who could marshal their engine room for the next decade.
A lack of winning mentality was viewed as Arsenal’s kryptonite last season as they squandered an eight-point lead to Manchester City. He may not be as flashy as Martin Odegaard or Bukayo Saka, but Rice has the steel and grittiness to glue the midfield around him.
Over 50 caps for England and, controversially, the Republic of Ireland gives Rice serious pedigree for his age at international level. Reports have now emerged confirming his status as part of the Three Lions' leadership group.
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