When Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta signed an extension, it may have come as a surprise to a section of the supporters. Not that the Spanish midfielder is unpopular with the fans but because this may have signaled Arsene Wenger’s intent on signing a new defensive midfielder.
With the captain extending his stay at the club by another year, it more or less put curtains on the hopes of any new defensive midfielder signings. Well, at least, temporarily till the point Wenger comes out with a concrete bid for any one.
The 33-year-old Spanish midfielder is never in doubt that he would extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium. His original contract was due to expire this year and with the undue delay in signing an extension, there were rumours that he may move out of the club.
Arteta had an indifferent last season where he struggled with injuries and made just seven Premier League appearances. With the emergence of Francis Coquelin and the craving for a world class defensive midfielder, he was being linked with a move away from the club.
But, quashing all the reports, he signed an extension. In fact, Arteta insists that he never considered a move away from the North London club. The former Everton midfielder, who signed for the club in 2011 believes that Arsenal is now on the verge of challenging for more titles.
“It’s been three or four years and the rewards are coming now, so you want to be part of that as well”, Arteta said.
Arteta has overseen back to back FA Cup triumphs but also saw the club falling flat in their challenge for the Premier League title. He feels that there is competition for his place but wants to win back his place. The ankle injury he suffered in January was a setback but he believes that he is now fully fit to win back his place.
Its good news that Arteta feels he is fit enough to help Wenger mount a challenge for the Premier League title. It will be difficult for Wenger to have Arteta in the first XI instead of Coquelin; at least not in the current form.
Arteta has never taken his performance to a level that would woo the supporters. He was a reliable player but never one who could be that next level player. The Gunners supporters always wanted a world class enforcer who can be a shield for the back four. Arteta, sadly, could never be that player.
Using Arteta’s experience can be positively viewed but if his contract extension is seen as a reason not to sign new defensive midfielders, it may prove to be a glaring mistake. Hopefully, Wenger will make reinforcements.