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|Birthday||March 26, 1982|
Arteta completed a permanent move to Everton in the summer of 2005 after an impressive spell on loan at Goodison Park and quickly became one of the club’s star players, soon becoming regarded as one of the most reliable midfielders in England.
Initially deployed as a pivote, or deep lying midfielder, Everton manager David Moyes converted Arteta into an attacking midfielder, and at the end of the 2006-07 campaign he scooped his second Player of the Season award from the club after scoring nine goals and claiming 13 assists in the Premier League.
The Basque midfielder moved to Merseyside from Real Sociedad in a £2 million deal after weeks of negotiations, though he began his career at Catalan side Barcelona, not his hometown club. After failing to make the breakthrough at Camp Nou, he had two loan spells with Paris St Germain, initially for the second half of the 2000-01 season and then for the entire 2001-02 campaign, before joining Rangers in a £5.8 million transfer in the summer of 2002, going on to win the Treble in his debut season in Scotland.
In the summer of 2004, Arteta returned to La Liga when joining Real Sociedad for an undisclosed fee, but he found it hard to break into a struggling side and made only three starts, playing just 479 minutes of football in La Liga by January. Everton moved in with a surprise bid on transfer deadline day that month to sign the player on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent deal.
He duly secured that long-term deal, and became a fan favourite. Though a serious knee injury sustained in February 2009 ruled him out for 11 months, he returned with six goals in 13 league games in the second half of the 2009-10 season. He struggled to maintain his best form after that injury, but nonetheless remained a key part of the Everton team.
Arsenal, in need of midfield reinforcements after the sale of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona earlier in the summer of 2011, made a dramatic swoop to sign Arteta as the transfer deadline was drawing close and the midfielder told Everton he wanted to seize the chance. He is an unusual signing for Arsene Wenger, but comes with experience in the Premier League and the hope is that the deal will reignite his career.
The addition of Arteta proved a shrewd one by Wenger, as the Spanish midfielder featured in 29 of their 38 league matches, scoring six goals. He soon endeared himself to the fans with his neat passing and commitment. He netted the decisive goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Manchester City.
Strengths: Arteta is a visionary with the ball at his feet and, at his best, has operated as the creative hub. The Spaniard’s set-piece skills are largely unmatched in England and he possesses a fierce shot. Weaknesses: Arteta is susceptible to a physical approach and has suffered with injuries, while he can also slow down the play with his sideways passing.
Career high: Winning the domestic Treble with Rangers in the 2002-03 season.
Career low: The serious knee injury that saw him miss the 2009 FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea and kept him sidelined for 11 months.
Style: Influential, creative, dynamic, a cultured midfielder.
Quotes: “It is a big opportunity for me and my family and I think it is the right time for me to take it. It is a big challenge, a different challenge, fresh for me and I want to see myself on the biggest stage, the Champions League” – Mikel Arteta on his move to Arsenal, September 2011.
Trivia: Arteta is best friends with former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso and the two midfielders grew up playing football together in San Sebastian. They were also neighbours when their paths crossed on Merseyside.