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Declan Rice opens up on his biggest challenge since joining Arsenal

Arsenal summer recruit Declan Rice has revealed that living up to his hefty price tag has proven to be his biggest challenge at the Emirates Stadium.

The 24-year-old relinquished his captaincy at West Ham United to join the Premier League runners-up in a mind-boggling £105 million deal, becoming the Gunners’ record purchase.

Rice has enjoyed a smooth transition at the club, settling into Mikel Arteta’s side and establishing himself as a vital cog at the base of the midfield.

When asked what his biggest challenge has been at Arsenal, Rice told Sky Sports: “There’s been a lot of challenges so far.

“I’d say the biggest one that stands out for me and probably for the general public as well is the price tag, having to live up to the big money that Arsenal paid for me.”

“I’ve always been confident,” he added. “I’ve always had that belief in my ability that I can go out and make that price feel worthwhile.

“I also don’t think about it too much. That’s why I’ve got off to life at Arsenal so good – it’s because I’ve not let anything else stress me.

“I’ve just focused on my football, focused on what the manager has wanted of me and also, I’ve been really lucky with my teammates, the staff and everyone around here who has made me really comfortable.”

Rice has been one of the first names on Arteta’s team sheet, making 13 appearances across all competitions.

The England international opened his goalscoring account in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United last month before netting his second in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea.

His acquisition has undoubtedly taken Arsenal’s midfield up a notch, with the Gunners now regarded as genuine title contenders across all fronts.

Rice averages 73 touches and 0.7 key passes per game and has created one big chance in the Premier League while maintaining an impressive 92% pass accuracy.

He also averages 1.4 interceptions, 2.3 tackles, and 4.8 ball recoveries per match, winning 56% of his battles on the ground.

The Englishman will be looking to build on his impressive start to life at Arsenal when Arteta’s side take on Sheffield United at the Emirates on Saturday.

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