Mikel Arteta hopes Arsenal’s decision to announce his new deal can be a ‘final push’ for his players as they look to end the season with a top four finish.
Having repeatedly said that contract negotiations with players are parked until the end of the season – a decision designed to focus minds on the remaining matches – it’s somewhat amusing that the manager and club have wasted no time resolving his future.
*Cough* Amazon documentary *Cough*
Arteta had one year left on his current contract and has signed an extension that will keep him at Emirates Stadium until 2025.
On the timing of the announcement, which comes alongside confirmation of a new contract for Women’s team manager Jonas Eidevall, he said: “The club was really eager to do it as quickly as we could.
“Obviously they showed a lot of faith and belief in what we are doing, with the coaching staff, what the direction of the team, and they thought the best moment was to do it right now, to give a final push to the team, to give some clarity about what we have to do in the summer, in the future.
“It’s a way of saying ‘listen, from both ways we believe in what we are doing and we want to commit to this project together.’ And this is the place I want to be, so it was a really simple decision for me.”
After two disappointing eighth place finishes in the league, Arteta has successfully engineered European qualification this season. At the bare minimum, we will play in the Europa League and a return to the Champions League is in our hands with four games remaining.
That progress and the general optimism that surrounds his project has been a key factor in the club’s show of faith in him. In Arteta’s mind, it’s time to kick on.
“To take the club to the next level and to compete really with the top team,” he said of his short and long-term aims.
“In order to do that, we have to be playing in the Champions League. We have to be able to evolve the team, improve our players, improve all departments, generate even more connection with our fans, improve the atmosphere at the Emirates, be able to recruit top, top talent and the best people for this club to drive this project to that level.
On the growing connection with supporters, he continued: “For me they have been the tsunami of this project. For two seasons we haven’t had them, so with the way I want the team to play, with the balance we have established, and I want people to lead the club in the way I believe we should be leading it.
“Without them it was impossible to do it. So from the moment we have had them close to us, they have sensed and felt that energy and that way of now representing the club to a much deeper level.
“That’s when a sense of belonging from the fans becomes natural, and that’s why everything clicked in my opinion to go and perform to the level that we are doing now.”
While club owners Stan and Josh Kroenke, still have some way to go to persuade supporters that they are doing their utmost to reestablish Arsenal as a serious force at the top of the game, Arteta appears to have developed a strong bond with them.
On his relationship with the board and ownership, he said: “Probably the way I would define it, it would be empathy, the same purpose and trust. Empathy because the moment I got to know Josh [Kroenke], from the first meeting I got a real sense that the energy was flowing.
“We were really clear and direct. He was showing the same ambition as I was. He could see the club at the same point and he wanted to take the club the way I wanted to do it. So everything that he’s said, and that Stan has said when I’ve been together with both of them, they’ve always delivered.
“I think that’s been a relationship that both ways has been exactly the same, so I’m extremely happy with them, with what they are doing, with their involvement, with the commitment they are showing and with the relationship that we have built together.
With myself, with Edu, with Rich, with Tim Lewis, with Vinai.
“That is really, really important because that connection and that communication has to be there at all times because this is a moving thing and they are extremely important to it.”