Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice has admitted struggling to get to grips with the pressure of his £105m price tag.
Rice was chased by the Premier League’s elite during the summer and, after Manchester City failed with a bid of £90m, Arsenal swooped in to strike a club-record deal worth a whopping £105m – making Rice the most expensive English player ever.
The 24-year-old has made a solid start to life at the Emirates, starting each of Arsenal’s 12 Premier League games so far as the Gunners sit third in the table, just one point behind leaders City.
“When the transfer was going through I was very nervous because of the price tag,” he told The Telegraph. “It’s natural to think about that. You’re a human being bought for £105m, 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 just 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.”
Rice has admitted Mikel Arteta helped convince him to join / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages
Rice also compared his situation to that of City’s Jack Grealish, who has openly admitted to struggling with the weight of his £100m price tag.
“It’s £100m, it’s a lot of money, I could understand the pressure that comes with it,” Rice continued. “Not only the pressure you put on yourself but there’s an expectation of being bought for that much money. People need to see performances straight away.
“I want to repay the club 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 £100m footballer but as he wasn’t playing as much, it was probably as bit different for him. Now he’s flying and it’s the same for me.”