Position: central midfielder
Previous teams: Everton, Rangers, Real Sociedad, Paris St Germain (loan), Barcelona
Bio: Dubbed an Arsene Wenger panic buy in the late hours of the summer transfer window, Mikel Arteta arrived with at Arsenal with the club seemingly in tatters.
A last-minute purchase from Everton just minutes before the transfer window shut, Arteta came just as Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas had left the club, leaving behind a team shorn of its creative impetus and most importantly, its belief, as it succumbed to a humiliating 8-2 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Arteta stepped into the breach not so much as a creative outlet, but as a well-worn intellect who could shore up the gaps in midfield and probe at opposition defences. A man with a terrific engine and stamina, Arteta is a wily operator just behind the more advanced midfielders and is crucial in turning Arsenal’s defence into attack.
Arteta’s first goal came in a 4-3 loss to Blackburn, but he had soon established himself as the midfield fulcrum in the absence of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal’s two major unbeaten streaks in the 2011/12 season owed much to Arteta’s work, and his loss to injury was keenly felt during the club’s late-season blip as it stumbled over the finishing line for third place.
The Spaniard made 29 appearances for Arsenal in his first season, notching a useful six goals and three assists.
Arteta has struggled to even make the squad for the Spanish national team, such is the array of talent available to the Iberian champions of Europe and the world. A product of the Barcelona academy, Arteta was a great servant for Rangers and Everton, playing a slightly more creative role than he presently enjoys with Arsenal. In six years for Everton, he notched up over 170 appearances and scored 28 goals.
He was finally presented the chance of Champions League football via Arsenal and seems to have made up for lost time with the club. His popularity with the fans was truly sealed with a breath-taking winner against Manchester City.
At the beginning of the 2012/13 season, he was named vice-captain of Arsenal below Thomas Vermaelen.