Despite sitting alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Mikel Arteta’s career as one of Arsenal’s unsung heroes should never be forgotten.
1In the beginning
Born in Basque Country, Arteta started his football career at Antiguoko in 1991.
The Spaniard was just nine at the time and found himself befriending his fellow player, Xabi Alonso. Both youngsters dreamed of playing for Real Sociedad and while Xabi went on to accomplish his this, Arteta signed for Barcelona’s academy in 1997.
The midfielder failed to break into Barca’s first team despite making 42 appearances for their second side and was even sent out on loan to Paris Saint-Germain in 2001.
He made 31 appearances and scored twice during his season in France. However, once his loan spell was up, despite PSG apparently having a ‘buy first’ option in their agreement and wanting to keep him, the Catalan giants decide to sell and in March 2002.
Arteta signed for Rangers for £6m.
He was still just 20 years old.
During his two years in Scotland, Arteta became a fan favourite, making 50 appearances and scoring 12 goals, including one in the Old Firm derby. The late penalty on his derby debut sent Rangers top of the league on goal difference and resulted in them winning the Treble.
No wonder the fans loved him…