Former Arsenal star Emmanuel Petit has lauded Declan Rice, hailing the midfielder's composure, skill, and leadership.
Rice joined the Gunners from West Ham United for £105 million in the summer. He has since made six appearances across competitions and also scored a goal in their 3-1 win over Manchester United. The English midfielder has fit right into manager Mikel Arteta's plans and formed a good partnership with Martin Odegaard.
Petit hailed Rice's performances and leadership skills, saying (via Football365):
"I’m in love with this guy! Before he arrived, I was begging Arsenal to sign him for two, three years already."
“I think this guy is a natural-born leader and he has so many qualities, he shows so much maturity and composure on the pitch and this is exactly what Arsenal needed for ages."
“For so many years, [Bukayo] Saka and [Thomas] Partey have done a great job last season. But I remember when Arsenal used to win titles and fight for the big prizes, there were always so many great holding midfielders so I think Rice is the perfect player for Arsenal.”
Rice has leadership experience, having captained West Ham to the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy last season. His arrival has come at a perfect time for the Gunners, with Thomas Partey suffering an injury.
Martin Keown astonished by Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard
Mikel Arteta's side beat PSV Eindhoven 4-0 at the Emirates in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, September 21.
Captain Martin Odegaard scored the fourth goal and provided the assist for the opening goal scored by Bukayo Saka. It was the Norwegian midfielder's third game in the Champions League, having previously made two appearances with Real Madrid.
After the game, former Gunners defender Martin Keown heaped praise on Odegaard, saying (via Football 365):
“It’s astonishing how he’s risen in the game. It was his third Champions League game, his first goal in Champions League football."
“He was at Real Madrid for many, many years and not really doing it. He won three Champions Leagues while he was there. But look at how he’s come back and he’s really controlling games.”
Odegaard joined Real Madrid from Stromsgodset in 2015 but could only make 11 senior appearances for them. He then joined the Gunners, initially on loan in January 2021 before the move was made permanent that summer.
The 24-year-old midfielder has registered 27 goals and 15 assists in 112 games for the north London side.