Declan Rice admits the money Arsenal paid to recruit him from West Ham made him nervous but he’s since learned to just focus on his game.
The England midfielder became the Gunners’ record signing when he moved across London for a fee that could reach £105 million.
After last year’s title challenge, the extraordinary outlay underlined Mikel Arteta’s determination to construct a squad capable of usurping Manchester City. So far, Rice’s performances have suggested the money was well spent.
“When the transfer was going through I was very nervous because of the price tag,” he told The Times ahead of England’s final Euro 2024 qualifier of the year.
“It’s natural to think about that. You’re a human being bought for £105 million, it doesn’t feel very normal. But that was because of what I’d done at West Ham, what they valued me at.
“When I signed for Arsenal, I thought I just need to be Declan Rice, be myself, don’t be any different, everything will go smoothly.
“The first three weeks of pre-season were really tough in terms of the change. When you’re at a new job you start to feel really settled after a few weeks. That really feels the case now.
“In terms of the price tag, I don’t really think about it, I just play the games and try to play as well as possible.”
While nine-figure transfer fees are a recent phenomenon, a proliferation of big moves in the last couple of years has gone some way to normalise the ridiculous cash being thrown around by English clubs.
Jack Grealish was the Premier League’s £100-million-trailblazer when he moved from Aston Villa to Manchester City and the extra-scrutiny seemed to take a toll on the winger’s performances initially. Rice says that pressure is something he recognises, even if he’s making a fist of not being weighed down by it.
“It’s £100 million, it’s a lot of money, I could understand the pressure that comes with it. Not only the pressure you put on yourself but there’s an expectation of being bought for that much money we need to see performances straight away.
“I want to repay the club back straight away, they have invested a lot of money in me, I need to prove why I can go there and change things.
“I can see why Jack struggled maybe at the start — mentally. He was a £100 million footballer but as he wasn’t playing as much, it was probably a bit different for him. Now he’s flying and it’s the same for me.”