Arsenal new boy Mikel Arteta has paid triubte to former club Everton for providing him with “probably the best time of my career”, but confessed that the thought of Champions League football at a big club like Arsenal was impossible to resist.
Arteta, 29, joined the Gunners in a deal worth around £10 million at the close of the summer transfer window on Wednesday night, ending his six-year spell at Goodison Park. The Spanish midfielder who has yet to receive an international cap at senior level was recruited to fill the creative void left in the midfield by the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and with a wealth of Premier League experience he is the perfect candidate.
Arteta feels the opportunity to play in Europe’s premier club competition was too difficult to turn down, defending his decision to force through a move after Everton initially rejected Arsenal’s advances.
“It is a big opportunity for me and my family and I think it is the right time for me to take it,” Arteta said. “It is a big challenge, a different challenge, fresh for me and I want to see myself on the biggest stage, the Champions League.
“I am 29 years old so I haven’t got much time left to take a chance like this one. I think I have done my best for Everton. I always try hard, I have been as professional as I could and I was grateful for the support and the love that the club and the fans showed me.
“It is very difficult to say goodbye. I still can’t believe it but at the same time I think it is the right moment for everyone. That is the way football is, there is always a start and an end and today is the end of probably the best time of my career. I am never going to forget it.
“It has been crazy. I can’t believe what happened, and the way it happened but as I said, that is part of football and I am going to be playing for another club soon. Obviously I am never going to forget what I have done here and what the people and this club have done for me.”
Everton boss Moyes was left disappointed at the departure of his star midfielder:
“Mikel indicated to me that he wished to join Arsenal if a bid came in,” Moyes told the club’s official website.
“I am very disappointed to lose him but the prospect of Champions League football was something I wasn’t able to offer him.”
Time will tell if the injury-prone Arteta will be a worthy move, but I feel that Wenger has made the right decision as the Spanish playmaker will add the necessary creativity and experience to the midfield and become a mentor for the likes of Ramsey and Wilshere as well. Unfortunately Arteta suffered a serious injury just days after his first senior call up to the Spanish national team last year, Arsenal should provide a decent platform for the former Merseyside man to excel and push his way into the national team if he can avoid any injury layoffs and perform as well as he has done for Everton in the past.
More on all Arsenal’s summer signings to follow..