If one was asked who Arsenal’s club captain is and answered with a name that wasn’t Mikel Arteta, they could easily be forgiven. The Spaniard was named captain in the summer of 2014 following the departure of Robin van Persie however, he has sadly only appeared in 15 BPL games since that point. The last two seasons have been rough for a player who has made a big impression at the club since his arrival five years ago.
When Fabregas decided it was time to return to Barcelona in the summer of 2011, there was doom and gloom around Arsenal. The club had to head back to the drawing board to plot out a new plan of action. Big investment in big players was called for but that was never going to happen. In the end, Arteta headlined Arsenal’s deadline day arrivals. The former Everton player was not the man Arsenal fans wanted to replace their former captain in midfield but he was the man they needed.
Arteta made it known early on that replicating Fabregas was not his aim, he instead intended to find his own role and display his own style. Eventually, we all came to know what he meant. Arteta had enjoyed relative success at Everton in an advanced midfield position but it was to be deeper he would excel for Arsenal. He displayed his intelligence and skill through his successful adaption to his new role for the club. His ability to win the ball, retain possession and instigate attacks became the platform for Arsenal’s team.
By the end of his first season, he had moved from a player fans were unsure about to a player the fans loved. The skeptics were silenced. His leadership abilities and performances on the field made him un-droppable and his promotion to vice-captain at the end of the season came as no surprise. He continued his performances in the following two seasons and at the end of the 2014 campaign he captained Arsenal to F.A Cup success and an end to the trophy drought.
Unfortunately, this is basically the end of a happy tale. Injury problems have wrecked the two seasons he’s been captain for with many wondering if things could have been different. What the future holds is unclear. Wenger has already confirmed the departure of the “big personality” Arteta in a playing sense. It is known that Arteta is in the process of acquiring his coaching badges and Wenger has confirmed that he has offers to join the coaching staff of not only Arsenal but Pep Guardiola’s Man City.
Regardless of what transpires, Arteta should be recognized as a player who came to Arsenal at one of its most difficult times and played a vital role in stabilizing the club. His impacts were seen both on and off the field and his reputation for being a consummate professional should not be disregarded. Mikel Arteta should go down as one of Arsene Wenger’s best signings and if he does leave Arsenal fully this summer he will surely be missed.