Declan Rice, the captain of West Ham, was transferred by Arsenal on Saturday, shattering the club record transfer fee for the Gunners. Mikel Arteta now has his man.
The North London club and the England international signed an eye-catching £105 million transfer fee agreement. The signing was crucial for Arteta because Rice was the player he had identified as the best fit for his system. If the team had to break records to acquire them, so be it.
According to reports, Arsenal offered the 24-year-old a contract worth a weekly salary of £240,000 because they think he can help them transform from title contenders to champions. Jurrien Timber joined from Ajax, and Kai Havertz joined from Chelsea before the change.
Like all other top-level clubs, gunners will also have internal rules and structures governing their clubs. Some are fundamental to success, whereas others are symbolic or part of longstanding traditions.
The distribution of shirt numbers at clubs is one of them. Senior players are instructed to use the traditional lower shirt numbers and leave those below the 30th shirt number to the youth team players or those who make up the outer reaches of the first-team squad.
Alex Iwobi explained this in 2020, when he broke through to the first team plans after rising from the club’s youth ranks. He explained that his move from no.45 to 17 was due to his new status and his club’s request.
Iwobi said on Instagram Live three years earlier: “I loved Big 45 as a young player at Arsenal, but I was told to switch to a Senior number. The next one available was 17.
It’s always been the same number since then. You’ve got to love it.
Rice was given the number 41 shirt, which is not usually associated with an Arsenal first-team player. The number on the shirt of his Hammers team was what he wanted, and Arsenal has made a compromise to give him the number.
Rice’s number seems unusual. But he told Gary Neville, on The Overlap, why he kept it after his youth team days. “It was a number that I got from the kit man in the academy, Jamo. You’ll have the same squad number as the first team when you are in the Under 23s. Then, it will increase to higher numbers once you reach the U23s.
“I still remember my first time in Seattle with the First Team when I was given the number 41. It’s been with me ever since. Since I was a child, my father and I have discussed the possibility of me staying with 41, no matter my future.
Rice 41 has an appealing ring, the number I grew up with. It’s a little superstitious of me to do that. Changing my number may affect how I perform. I’m still determining. “I just sometimes think about some things of that nature.”