According to reports, Athletico Bilbao are interested in signing Mikel Arteta with a fee of £3 million. Many within the fan sphere would likely leap for joy at such a news.
Several persons have cast aspersions on the 32 year old former Everton midfielder, on the grounds that he is too slow and unable to prevent counter attacks from an opposing team. This fact cannot be disputed as age has certainly caught up with the Spaniard. But it has to be stated that Arteta was never brought into the club as a defensive midfielder. If anything, the fact he initially took to the position like a duck to water, was because he had learnt the trade of playing without the ball in his years playing with David Moyes’ Everton.
And the stability he initially brought to the middle of the park certainly was a departure from the side show nature of Alex Song. Yet, the clamour for an upgrade in that position has been evident for over a year. To which the club tried to bring in Luis Gustavo and Lars Bender with failed bids last summer.
The club should not consider selling Mikel Arteta, as £3 million cannot buy experience. He is an experience member of the squad and even when his legs can no longer carry him, his tactical awareness is well established. This, Arsene Wenger has dwelled on several times. He does not have to play all the matches as he has done in the past three seasons, he can be subjected to rotation. With the departure of Bacary Sagna, it means the club is less one in terms of experience players present. Doing away with another experience player, in Arteta, will mean two experience players would have left the ship this summer.
In the past, many have hit out at the lack of experience head in the squad, reducing the number available will not serve the desired purpose.
However, with one year left on his deal, and with the likelihood that his contract might not be renewed, the club could decide to cash in on him now that he is 32 moving to 33. Yet, if he departs, it means the club would need two players in that position. And knowing how the club operates, just one player will be brought in and if such a player is from outside the Premier League, the bedding in period might take time. Something that Arteta could aid with as a result of his experience.
For once, the club should keep more experience players within the squad. And Mikel Arteta’s role if not served on the pitch if he ends up seeing less playing time, such experience can be used off the pitch to aid the club’s course next season.