Mikel Arteta expects Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice to have a “beautiful” return to former club West Ham in Wednesday’s League Cup clash.
Rice left the London Stadium to make a £105 million ($128 million) move across London to the Gunners in the close season.
The England star captained West Ham to victory in the Europa Conference League final at the end of last season, in his last game for the club he joined at the age of 14.
West Ham fans have often reserved hostile receptions for former players, with Frank Lampard enduring years of abuse after his switch to Chelsea and Paul Ince lambasted following his move to Manchester United.
But on the eve of Rice’s first trip back to West Ham since the transfer, Arsenal boss Arteta said he believed the 24-year-old would be given a warm welcome.
“It will be his first time back at his old club and a beautiful moment for him, I think,” Arteta said on Tuesday.
“I think it is beautiful. I had a chance to do it a few times, and then you really see what they think of you and what you left at the club.”
Arteta suggested Rice would be involved in the fourth-round tie in some way, although the Spaniard is expected to make widespread changes to rest players during a gruelling schedule of Premier League and Champions League matches.
“Every time you hear him talk about West Ham and what they did for him and everybody at the club, he cannot talk any higher of them, so hopefully they will be the same way towards him,” he said.
West Ham boss David Moyes also said he expected Rice to receive a warm welcome.
“You’ve got to remember that this is the man who lifted this club’s first European trophy in more than 50 years,” he said.
“He should be welcomed back with open arms. We’re all looking forward to seeing him again.
“He was a brilliant member of the team. He led the team brilliantly. He conducted himself impeccably as a West Ham captain and as a player.”