Kai Havertz and Declan Rice’s likely Arsenal starting XI

18 July 2023 - 11:26 pm


Arsenal have reportedly signed two of the best young players not only in the Premier League but in all of world football.

Kai Havertz joined from Chelsea after two disappointing seasons, but before that he was the attacking hero of the side that won the 2020/21 Champions League. Even before that, he was already one of Leverkusen’s most sought-after young players in world football, which is why he originally moved to the Blues for €80 million.

Incidentally, Arsenal will pay him around €5m less for him.

Meanwhile, Declan Rice is a bigger target for the Gunners and a correspondingly higher cost.Rice is one of the best midfielders in the world and he will leave Arsenal behind £100 million plus an additional £5 million in bonuses.

That’s the exact price that was needed to convince West Ham to let go of a world-class midfielder, and it’s what Arsenal needed to beat Premier League title rivals Manchester City.

How will Rice and Havertz fit into Arsenal and help a team that finished second in the Premier League in 2022/23?

Here’s a possible starting lineup that includes both.


GK Aaron Ramsdale

LB Aleksander Zinchenko

CB Gabriel Magalhaes

CB William Saliba

RB Ben White

Let’s start on the right side of the defense, since that’s the only place where transfers are likely to occur. It is possible that Arsenal could sign a young true right-back to gain experience in the position and Real Valladolid’s Ivan Fresneda is an option.

But honestly, Ben White provides so much defensive stability for the team and can get into midfield to help Arenal stay resilient against counter-attacks. Despite being a centre-back at heart, he was one of the best right-backs in the Premier League last season in his own right.

Arsenal’s starting centre-back is one of the best duos in world football and they are both under 25, meaning they could rule together for years to come. Both Gabriel and William Saliba are complementary, with Saliba having the most long-term strengths, especially on the ball, and Gabriel providing the extra grit every defense needs.

Finally, Oleksandr Zinchenko is one of the most technically advanced left-backs in the world, playing an inverted role, often acting as a midfielder, reclaiming possession, picking passes, and advancing the game for the front line . Zinchenko will become even more important if Mikel Arteta plays in an attacking formation alongside Kai Havertz, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus.

In goalkeeping, Aaron Ramsdale is a fighter who tends to elevate his game when it matters the most. He’s not the absolute best keeper in the Premier League, but he has to be considered for a shortlist for the league’s top keeper.


DM Declan Rice

Linky Havertz

Ram Martin Odegaard

Now things get interesting because while the defense is 100% made up of these five players, who are the best players in Arsenal’s respective positions, the Gunners have more flexibility and more decisions in midfield.

Granit Xhaka is all but certain to join Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga’s return, while Thomas Partey is also the subject of intense transfer talk. Even Jorginho could leave, but Partey looks set to command a higher fee, meaning his exit (possibly to Saudi Arabia) is more likely.

But regardless of the transfer rumours, the trio make up the best three players in Arsenal’s midfield and we can expect Arteta to work his magic and try to get them on the pitch at the same time. Thanks to the quality of the wingers and the playing style of the full-backs, he can get rid of two-headed monsters such as Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz.

Oh, by the way, City won a true double last year with a flexible back three, an elite defensive midfielder and a two-headed monster of a world-class CAM.

Martin Odegaard’s place as captain in the squad is undisputed. He is rightfully one of the most important players in the Premier League, capable of changing a game, especially with a goal or an assist coming out of nowhere when it matters most. Over time, he has become a true leader and a more active part of the team’s winning efforts.

Declan Rice will be Arteta’s cornerstone, starting and covering defense. He’s very good at everything an anchor needs to do, and it will be exciting to watch how he combines defense with offense. As he matures, the 24-year-old will become even better at picking deadly passes for Arsenal’s talented striker.

Although classified as an attacking midfielder, Kai Havertz is more of a second striker, a role that suits him better. He will be able to play against Gabriel Jesus, swap places with a striker or even Gabriel Martinelli on the left.

Getting Havertz into shooting position with his trusty right foot will be crucial. With confidence, those near misses should be the Goal of the Season candidates. Both Havertz and Jesus are willing to keep fit, as are the wingers, so the loss of defensive stability shouldn’t be too much of a concern. These guys will work.


LW Gabriel Martinelli

CF Gabriel Jesus

RW Bukayo Saka

We don’t need to analyze this attack in disgusting detail because I think it’s safe to say that everyone with a passing interest in Premier League football knows that this trio is the best and most balanced attack on the entire planet One of the trident. They are young, hungry, hardworking, creative and selfless. All three of them clicked.

Bukayo Saka’s season has been one of the best of any player in Europe’s top five leagues, with 14 goals and 11 assists, delivering a dizzying end product and such a high strength. He wins possessions, dribbles, recovers possessions, provides width, and engages defenders while still performing at the absolute highest level. He is indeed the perfect pairing with the exciting Martinelli, who has more long-term advantages than any winger in England’s top flight.

It was hilarious to hear the usually clueless pundits among English football pundits criticize Jesus for not scoring enough goals. Because they missed everything else about his hugely successful first season at Arsenal. He’s the offensive leader, the all-around chaos maker who makes the team complete. With Havertz in, Jesus will become even more important, and over time, the two can tear apart defenses with devastating one-twos.