Arteta would have sparkled for England, claims Wenger

Arsène Wenger believes Mikel Arteta would have had a successful international career if he were English

arsene wenger
Wenger has been thrilled with Arteta's performances for Arsenal PA Photos

arsene wenger

Arsène Wenger believes Mikel Arteta would have enjoyed a fruitful international career if he were eligible to play for England.

The 29-year-old is yet to earn a call-up to the senior Spanish national side despite being one of the Premier League’s most consistent performers since moving to Everton in 2004.

And his manager admits the number of world-class midfielders the country has produced during his career has made it difficult for Arteta to break into Vincent del Bosque’s squad.

“In a different way he is like [Ryan] Giggs,” he said. “He had the bad luck to play for Wales who never went to a big tournament. Arteta was born in Spain where they have plenty of midfielders who are absolutely outstanding.

“What maybe didn’t help him is that he was very young and he did not move to clubs who were maybe as glamorous as they should have been.

“At the time he went very young to PSG when they were not going very well. After he moved to Rangers to try and convince Spanish managers he deserved a place in the team and then to Everton.

“It shows what I always say – 90 per cent of a player’s career is the club. It’s the club who makes the career of the players. If he was English he would have an international career here.”

Arteta has already become an key figure in Wenger’s side after completing his move to The Emirates, making eight league appearances and scoring twice for the Gunners.

And the Arsenal boss has been delighted with his contributions to date.

“He is an important player for our team,” Wenger continued. “He is really a player between Song and Ramsey or Rosicky and that gives us continuity.

“When we need to keep the ball he can achieve that – Jack [Wilshere] can do that as well. But with Jack missing he is a player who can keep the ball when it is needed.

“He is adapting to our game. If you look at the stats in the Premier League, Arsenal are the team who play the least balls backwards.

“That means when you have the ball it is not only a question of decision-making, it’s a question of opportunity. It’s about how many players you have in front of you – if you have players behind you have to play it backwards.”

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