Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has admitted he was “mad” on the signing of Declan Rice and has hailed the midfielder for coping with his £105million price tag.

Rice moved to the Gunners in the summer from West Ham for a club-record fee and has proved an inspired signing.

He has helped Arsenal compete for the title again and a victory over his old club West Ham on Thursday night would put Arteta’s side top of the Premier League.

Arteta has heaped praise on Rice, lauding his influence on the pitch, and the Spaniard has confessed he was desperate to sign him this summer.

“Every time you switch the TV on, they will be talking about Arsenal, and talking about Dec,” said Arteta.

“At the beginning there were a lot of question marks and that’s something you have to overcome because they’re going to be looking at every stat and every movement that you make. He’s very intelligent to manage that.”

“I love his presence on the pitch. He’s there and he’s got something special. I felt it when I played against him, that’s why I was mad to sign him. You get a feeling about players and I wanted him to be part of our team.

“When they put the price tag you have to carry that and it is not easy. He has done it in a brilliant way.

“He is a really humble guy and the way that he wants to learn and take positive criticism is really powerful. He has other levels to go.

“He is playing more as a deeper role in the last few weeks but playing as a No8 he can be an incredible player, he can be a centre back if he needs to step in if we need to.

“He has shown that he has an eye for goals when he is in the opponent’s box he is a real threat. That is something that can be developed, his leadership skill the way that he will naturally grow in the team and club in the years to come, there is much more from him.”