Mikel Arteta says his players only found out about his contract extension this morning and revealed the Arsenal hierarchy, in a show of faith, asked him to put pen-to-paper on the deal in the aftermath of the recent run of three defeats.
It was confirmed this morning that the Spaniard had committed himself to the Gunners until 2025, a two-year extension on his current deal, and that the announcement was timed to provide stability ahead of what’s expected to be a busy summer in the transfer market.
“The club was so decisive and committed to doing it now,” explained the manager.
“They wanted to bring clarity, starting from the ownership, about what we are doing and show the stability and the commitment to the project and not having to worry in the summer about any of that when we want to recruit players, or keep the players that we want, so that they can see a clear path in the future and that there is no question mark.
“The moment they questioned me about about what my feelings were, I was very clear that I was ready to commit here, I’m extremely happy here and this job, I still have a lot to do.
“They [the players] found out this morning. Some of them have been asking me the last few months because they have questions about their individual futures because they read some news as well but it’s not something I like to be talking about. I want zero distractions about that so this afternoon, that’s done. It’s clear for the future and now it’s full focus on Leeds.”
Pressed on whether Sunday’s win over West Ham, which secured European football for next season, had triggered the club’s offer, Arteta revealed the terms had been tabled two weeks prior following disappointing results against Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton.
“The club offered me the contract when we lost three matches,” he said. “That day I went like this ‘chapeau’. And that doesn’t happen in football.
“That’s a part of what they think, the conversations they have, the belief that they have in myself, the coaching and staff in what we are doing and the people that we have now at the football club and leading this football club and I haven’t ever seen it and I just got emotional when I see it and I said ‘you guys are serious and committed and I’d better push forward’.
On his new contract giving the club solid foundations to enter into negotiations with stars like Bukayo Saka – the England international has two years left on his deal and the Gunners want to tie him down for longer – the boss continued:
“It’s something that has to be explained to the players so when you are discussing the possibility to stay here or recruiting somebody playing at a different club, you have to explain how you want to do it and in detail so they know clearly what they are going to be leaving if they join our club.
“In order to do that, the club thought this was the best moment to do it and in fairness, I agree with them.”