Arsenal’s title odds shorten after signing Declan Rice – can he be the difference?

By on July 15, 2023

Arsenal have finally announced the signing of Declan Rice in a British record £105m deal from West Ham. The Gunners have been chasing the England international since January and have beaten off competition from the likes of Manchester City and Bayern Munich to secure his signature, so it’s certainly a statement signing from the North Londoners.

Mikel Arteta’s men came up just short in the Premier League title race last season. Having led the way for almost 250 days, the Gunners imploded in April and Man City took full advantage to retain the title en route to winning the treble. Arteta knew he needed to strengthen his squad after securing Arsenal’s return to the Champions League as they didn’t have a squad strong enough to compete on all fronts.

Arsenal exited all of the cup competitions during the early rounds last season and were able to focus solely on the title chase, and they still came up short due to a lack of depth in key areas. William Saliba’s untimely injury in March was a major factor in Arsenal’s end of season collapse as Rob Holding just wasn’t able to fill his boots. Thomas Partey also lost form during the business end of the season and it was another key reason Arsenal weren’t able to get over the line in first place.

Arteta needed depth and quality signings, and he wasted no time in bringing in Kai Havertz from Chelsea to give him another option in midfield and attack. The versatile German international has been earmarked as a replacement for Granit Xhaka – who’s joined Bayer Leverkusen, but he can also play up front if needed.

Jurrien Timber has arrived to strengthen Arsenal’s defence after a £38m deal was agreed with Ajax. The highly-rated Dutchman is expected to compete for the right-back spot in Arteta’s team but he’s also comfortable playing at centre-back so he’ll give the Gunners another top class option if Saliba or Gabriel are injured or need a rest. It’s this kind of depth that Arsenal missed last season and it will prove crucial if the North Londoners are to sustain another title charge this coming campaign.

Rice the key

However, the key signing could be that of Declan Rice. The England international was courted by various clubs throughout Europe after developing into one of the best central midfielders in the world during his time at West Ham. Arteta made Rice his key target this summer and after lengthy negotiations with West Ham, a deal was finally agreed earlier this month.

Arsenal had to go above what they wanted after Man City tried to hijack the move with a £90m offer, but Rice had his heart set on a move to the Emirates Stadium and the Gunners have paid West Ham £105m including add-ons for the 24-year-old’s signature. The move was held up due to paperwork issues, but Arsenal finally announced Rice’s arrival this weekend with the midfielder signing a long-term contract at the club.

The England ace is a statement signing by Arsenal and he should prove to be an excellent addition to Arteta’s team. Rice is expected to start in the defensive midfield role which has been occupied by Thomas Partey. The Ghanaian international is now being tipped for a move to Saudi Arabia and Arsenal are prepared to cash-in if they receive an offer of around £40m.

Partey is a top class player when he’s fit and on form, but Rice will be a significant upgrade in the middle of the park. He’s coming into his prime years, is a proper leader and rarely gets injured so he’ll be a superb replacement for Partey.

Title odds shorten

Just a couple of weeks ago, Arsenal were priced at 10/1 to win the Premier League title this coming season. Following confirmation of Rice’s arrival, the Gunners have now shortened to 6/1 so the bookmakers certainly think Arsenal are going to be a much bigger threat with Rice in the team.

The waiting list to buy Arsenal tickets has also lengthened following Rice’s signing so supporters are also clearly expecting big things from the Gunners next season. There is certainly a huge buzz around the club right now and it’s moving in the right direction under Arteta and Edu’s guidance. Arsenal have come a long way in the last five years and it’s been a painful journey at times. They finished 8th in successive seasons as they gutted the squad and offloaded expensive players such as Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arteta has replaced them with hungry, talented young players and Rice fits in perfectly with the clubs strategy right now. As do Havertz and Timber, so the recruitment has been excellent from the North Londoners in recent years and Arteta is building a squad that can compete at the top for the next ten years.

More to come

And the Spaniard isn’t expected to stop here. Arsenal will now focus on selling some players with the likes of Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, Folarin Balogun, Nuno Tavares and Cedric Soares expected to be sold to make room for further new signings. If Arsenal can sell Balogun for £45m-£50m, then Arteta is expected to target another right forward to support Bukayo Saka as the England international has been overworked in recent seasons. Several named have been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium but it will be interesting to see who they end up buying.

If Partey departs for Saudi Arabia, then another central midfielder will be signed and Arsenal are being strongly linked with a move for Southampton’s Romeo Lavia. The Belgian youngster is valued at around £50m and would be another exciting addition to the squad. The 19-year-old was excellent for the Saints last season, but Arsenal will face stiff competition for his signature from Liverpool and Chelsea.

It’s certainly an exciting time at Arsenal right now. If you’d have asked fans 5-10 years ago if they thought the club would beat Man City to sign a £100m player, they would probably have laughed at you. But that’s where the club is right now, and they are finally back competing at the highest level again after a difficult few years.

However, after spending over £200m so far this summer, the pressure will be on Arteta to deliver silverware. Arsenal proved they can go toe-to-toe with Man City last season but this campaign is expected to be even more competitive, so it’s down to the Gunners to prove they have what it takes to go all the way this year.