Monday, June 24, 2024

Arteta: Language is the key to success

When Arsenal made their move in the transfer market last summer, it was noteworthy that all six signings arrived at the club with a very decent grasp of English.

While hardly surprising in the cases of Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White, from Stoke and Poole respectively, and Martin Odegaard, who had already been on loan at the club, it was definitely welcome to find Nuno Tavares, Sambi Lokonga and Takehiro Tomiyasu were also very competent communicators.

Given Mikel Arteta believes language “is the platform for everything” we can assume the club’s recruitment process prioritised players who had the ability to assimilate on the language front from the get-go.

It might also explain why other players have fallen by the wayside. Lucas Torreira, for example, continues to struggle with English and has barely featured under the Spaniard.

Speaking to, Arteta, who turns 40 today, explained why learning English is non-negotiable.

“Playing in one of the more difficult leagues in the world is a different challenge depending on where you have come from,” he said.

“But also it’s about how much they do to adapt. They might not speak English when they arrive, but what can you do in a month or two months?

“They might say ‘it’s difficult for me’ but how much are you really trying? Because for me the language is an absolute basic. It’s the platform for everything.

“If not, you cannot communicate, make yourself understood or noticeable. You cannot create your figure, your identity, within the dressing room and the club without being able to communicate.”

He added: “It’s impossible, so I always put a lot of emphasis on players when they arrive – the first thing is you have to learn the language. You have to be able to communicate.

“That’s whether you are coming from the academy or not it doesn’t matter – you have to be able to talk with your teammates. It’s something we talk about because in my opinion it’s a key to success.”

Arteta also spoke about the importance of creating a shared sense of belonging for players, staff and supporters. It’s a drum he’s been banging for a long time and he finally feels like he’s making progress.

Not only is his side challenging for a place in the Champions League, the entire mood and narrative around the club is one of optimism rather than division.

He said: “Until now I think one of the biggest successes has been to create – as a club – a culture and an atmosphere where our players, staff and everyone can feel that this is a place where they can fulfil their potential.

“It is a place where they can grow, they can participate and everyone can add value to the club. When you get that, you create a real sense of belonging and that’s something more powerful than just personal interest. I think that’s been one of our biggest wins so far.”

He added: “I just feel lucky to be part of this club, especially at this moment. And especially now when I feel there is a real sense of unity and when I see there is an energy.

“When I visualise the club and when I see the Emirates I see energy and direction. I see we are connected as a club and that empowers me and gives me the energy to say ‘we can do this and we believe.'”


It’s well worth putting five minutes aside and reading the full interview on the official website. 

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Going to take this opportunity to give a shout to Arsene Wenger, who was fluent in no less than five languages – at a time when some thick-as-pig-shit English Premiership managers struggled with their own mother-tongue.

Viv the 🐐

Or some wannabe english star strikers


I still understand less than 25% of the interviews Harry Kane gives.


I don’t think that’s fair to Big Sam, mate,,, I’ve seen some pretty thin piggy poo in my time.


Emery proves that language is vital.


Definitely. Clearly a very competent manager, look at his success before and after us. No coincidence he has thrived in his home country but struggled in France and England. I think this element is underestimated by most fans who think a good manager must be a good manager everywhere

Q3 Technique

Not sure it’s right to say he struggled in France. He won the trophies he was expected to win. He didn’t win the Champions League but then few have. Also, while he struggled in the end during his time at Arsenal, he never got the support he wanted (e.g. Torreira instead of Nzonzi, didn’t get Nkunku, Saliba was of no use, still had all the deadwood that we’ve recently had to pay to leave).


Emery clearly wanted to do at least some of the things Arteta is (rightfully) being praised for doing (ousting bad eggs, pushing hungry youngsters through to the first team) but had exactly zero support and patience from the board and fans alike.

Some of that is down to his inability to communicate, a lot of that is down to the clubs executive structure failing him massively. I’m really happy to see him doing as well as he is.

Heavenly Chapecoense

All I want is a team that wins games, punto final. I don’t know if Lewandowski speaks English but even if he doesn’t want to, I would welcome him anytime.


Interesting that the word ‘goal’ translates almost identically in more than half a dozen languages.

Inspector norse

i always say he would have done a lot better with an interpreter, till he had a full grasp of the english language at least, though i did apreciate his willingness to speak english, it was obviously a little to early for him.

Funsho Patrick

Good ebening C.B.,you’re a mean protagonist!🤣

Rising Dough

Clearly Emery struggled with communication, and English competency is important. But it’s also important that you understand how to communicate, regardless of language. As fans, we tuned out during his press conferences- so many words spoken and so little said. One can’t help but wonder if the players tuned him out as well.

After being undermined at PSG, it’s only natural to assume Unai was very nervous about his position at Arsenal. His communication reflected this, imo.


100% agree. I can’t understand how did Bielsa manage Leeds with zero English.


Connection, energy, belonging, culture, direction…

Lots of great words to be using about the club and its players. On the up and with a high ceiling!


Emery did really well considering that he more or less had to issue all the tactics and motivation via the medium of mime.


Totally agree with that. Remember Gabriel Paulista?
Joel Campbell?
And down to Emery, not being able to convey his idea. I also felt that players took his limited words too literally and just follow. It shows on the pitch, they do step 1, step 2 and they hesitate like whats next. Credit given is that he actually tried to pick up the language in the shortest time, just not fast enough, as fans were out of patience.

What other players come to your mind?


Think Gabriel Paulista is an excellent example. A very good defender but how could he be at the heart of our defense if he could not instantly follow what the others were saying?

Partey Pants

To be fair to Joel it wasn’t easy to learn English at 7 different clubs around Europe.

A Different George

He got out while he could.


I liked him


Joel Campbell last sighted playing in Mexico.


The fact that Arteta speaks like, 4 or 5 languages fluently must be a key to success when it comes to persuading players to sign for us in their native tongue.

There are lots of small ‘soft’ details in this article, which all add up to something bigger (if that makes sense). I think we are seeing the beginning of something substantial with the direction of the club……just hope we get that CL spot, because that is when the fun will really start !! 🚀

A Different George

I remember an interview with Santi, where he talked about how Arteta had been the key in getting him integrated into the dressing room and, really, into life in England.


While hardly surprising in the cases of Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White, from Stoke and Poole respectively,

Oh I don’t know. I remember a few English players, including an England team captain, whose grasp of English was bordering on non-existent! Many of the foreign players could speak better English. I’m glad that our English players don’t show us up in that respect.


I didn’t know people from Stoke could speak English. All I’ve ever heard from their fans are grunts.


That’s all well and good Mikel but English is notoriously hard to learn and you are a bit of a polygot!
That said I can’t argue with results!

Determination Cultured

English is easier than the rest. It has 2 genders. French has 3 and German has 4. The chinese langugage spelling alone topples English hands down.


Can you explain the 2 genders in English and 4 in German?

A Different George

Well, actually French only has two genders, but the number of genders–and almost any other grammatical issue–is really secondary. What’s clear is that it is much easier to learn a foreign language as a child. So kids from rich countries who are taught English in school when they are young are much more likely to become proficient than, for example, a kid from the favelas of Sao Paulo who leaves school very young because he must work to feed his family.


German has 3 genders, not 4… masculine, feminine and neutral…

Teryima Adi

Hahahaha. Chinese is a no go area.😃😃😃


I had a teacher who was from Italy, she taught French and German at my school, meaning she’d learnt French, German and English as a native Italian speaker. She said, by far, English was the hardest to learn, so fair play to anyone who gets to grips with it.


And no complex verb conjugations – other than it’s eccentric exceptions to rules, English defs easier than most of the latin and Scandivanian languages.


I think the “other than the eccentric exceptions” is the bit that actually makes it quite difficult. English has a huge amount of irregularities, words pronounced the same with very different meanings, etc.


Why the downvotes?😂 English is hard to learn and Mikel speaks loads of languages (that’s a polygot!)


Even if one arrives at the club with no English, they better show their inner resilience and determination and learn it in 6 months or so.
The top level demands it.


Now its the correct time for us to discuss the articles photo.

Dr Zebra

Hehe “the mikel arteta non-negotiable language school is located over there. Non-negotiable.”


Or maybe: “tell me the 3 keys of success in plain English or make your way to that Exit door!”


“…and this season, we are going to band together to climb Top Four Mountain…”

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

Happy birthday boss!
Something he said stood out for me, that I never thought of. Yes, he’s a new manager, but his 20 continuous years in the league would have given him an insight into what’s required to succeed

Teryima Adi

Yes, we can, Arteta- we can do this.


I’m calling it. We’ll sign Tammy Abraham and Marcus Rashford in the summer. Youri Tielemans in the midfield for good measure.
Arsenal 1st Team – 25 player squad
Ramsdale, Turner, Okonkwo
Tierney, Tavares, Takehiro, Cedric
Gabriel, White, Saliba, Rekik, Holding
Partey, Lakonga, Xhaka
Tielmanns, Odegaard, Patino
Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Omari
Rashford, Abraham, Biereth


This is a bit tangential, but I remember when Guardiola did his first conference at Bayern. It was incredible how well he was communicating in German. I realize that he’d been studying German for a long time to get to that point, but I think he and Mikel are agreed that it’s really important to project that level of communication.


Jonathan David speaks English.

Just saying… 🙂


I get the point Arteta is making and largely agree with him. However, I think we have had a couple of footballers at this club that made it work without really knowing the language. The best recent example was Alexis Sanchez. Brilliant player, loads of goals and assists, but how much of that was just down to him as a player and how much down to Arsene Wenger’s instructions is an open question. I remember Arsene highlighting this when Alexis arrived; in one of the interviews he mentioned “football being a very simple game re communication, with only needing to… Read more »

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