Arsenal: Mikel Arteta explains how natural leader Declan Rice has exceeded his expectations

Arsenal: Mikel Arteta explains how natural leader Declan Rice has exceeded his expectations

Mikel Arteta has hailed Declan Rice assuming a leadership role at Arsenal without wearing the captain’s armband.

The midfielder has proved an inspired signing for the Gunners after joining them in the summer from West Ham for £105million.

Rice has been one of Arsenal’s players of the season and delivered in the biggest games, including last weekend’s win over Liverpool.

The England international has quickly become a leader in the Arsenal dressing room and asked if he could wear the armband if needed, Arteta said: “Yeah, he has got every skill.

“Obviously he has been captain at youth level, he has been captain for West Ham and he is one that sometimes doesn’t need to have the armband.

“When he talks, people listen and pay attention - and he has got the natural ability to do that.”

Rice has excelled at Arsenal despite his huge price tag and Arteta believes that is down to his upbringing.

“He is a very mature and confident person, especially for his age,” the manager said.

“But he has done a lot in the game as well. He has done it through an academy and an education that, in my opinion, is one of the best in the country.

“He has got an environment [and] a family that is very supportive, but as well very demanding of him and he has dealt with that in a great way.

“Then he loves what he does. He loves it every single day.

“He is very demanding of himself and he wants to get better. He has got the qualities that God gave him and he keeps developing every day, and we have to support him on that.

“We were expecting the best obviously because we paid big money and we knew the player. Something else is the way he has fit in and how loved and respected he already is at the club, in the team.

“The performances he has put in every week he has been one of the most consistent players this season and especially in big, big games he has been incredibly strong for us. We are delighted to have him.”