Monday, July 15, 2024

Transcript: Mikel Arteta talks to Marca

Mikel Arteta did a sit-down interview with Marca today – here’s a transcript of those questions and answers.

Q. It was an exhausting season – what does the Arsenal manager do when on holiday?

A. Above all, it’s about taking a break to disconnect from work and connect with our families. It’s the only time of the year we can be with them for real: my three children, my wife, parents, friends… although my children are crazy about football and in my house the ball is always rolling around.

Q. That’s ideal, but… does it work, are you able to disconnect?

A. In the beginning, it’s hard. You come from a lot of tension and it takes a while to lower your heart rate. The phone is still ringing, that’s for sure, because things happen in the summer. The first week I took a bit more off, but we are now in the middle of the market and decisions have to be made.

Q. Have you watched any football?

A. I have watched some international football and I have enjoyed the national team’s title, but we have also looked at ourselves. Looking at our games, situations, trying to pick out things we need to keep and things we need to improve on, including myself.

Q. How have you rediscovered Arsenal’s winning spirit in the three and a half seasons you’ve been there?

A. It started three years ago. I was Pep’s assistant at City, we were playing Arsenal and I could see that the soul of the club had been lost. There was no enjoyment, no feeling. I knew there was the option of, soon after, being in the other dugout and I knew that this club is so big that we had to connect the team with the fans.

It has been hard to do and undo… but now I feel happy. We have a clear identity, there is unity and we are full of energy. That’s the greatest thing. From top to bottom, everyone is pushing in the same direction. We give the fans something to dream about and be proud of. And now, we have to win more.

Q. The Wenger era was very long, and that created triumphs, but also entrenched defects. Were you able to detect what was wrong?

A. It was very clear to me. I drew a tree and its roots, and I said that it was our problem. We had to cure all that, and cure it with people who were involved. Without that, there would be no fun for the audience.

Q. Let’s go back to last season, was it an achievement to beat City in the Premiership or was it an achievement just to win it?

A. The achievement was to win it. This is Arsenal and the standards are high. To this day, it still hurts me deep inside not to have won the Premiership after 10 months of fighting with City. But that’s sport. Having said that, what we achieved with such a young team [Arsenal had the youngest squad in the Premiership] is to be applauded. That’s clear to me as well.

Q. What was missing to win?

A. A lot of things. We were penalized by those three draws we had in a row [Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton], and all the misfortunes that happened [two comebacks from two goals down]. There were three or four injuries to important players and from then on, everything got complicated. When we had the full team, we were consistent. As soon as problems came, it wasn’t enough for us. And then our opponent was the best team in the world; the best squad in the world; the best coach in the world…. We had no choice but to accept it and shake hands with the champion.

P. For you, there is no doubt: Pep is the best?

A. No doubt about it. He is the best in everything. Management; convincing the group of your idea; getting everyone on board; getting the best out of them; making decisions before and during the game; making sure that the message doesn’t expire… Pep is a genius.

Q. Do you think that City is Guardiola’s best work?

A. It’s not fair to compare. Every team had its brilliance, and this City is incredible, because they are beautiful to watch, it is a different team and it was adapted to the players, who are the protagonists at the end of the day. And, in addition, they win titles, of course.

Q. I remember at the end of the last game against City (4-1), I saw that you didn’t greet him very warmly. Do you have a good relationship?

A. Very good, I spoke to Pep three days ago. But we are both driven to win, competitive, and when we are in the ring, we are very focused. But we are confident enough for that to happen and the next day to call each other and give each other a hug. That’s never going to go away.

Q. I’ve known you for more than 20 years, and you’re not like that: you hardly ever smile on the sidelines! Is there that much tension inside you?

A. I’m focused and involved in the game, I’m aware of what needs to happen on the pitch. Maybe as I get older I’ll relax more [laughs].

Q. In the Premiership every game is a battle. Do you see yourself coaching for another 20 years?

A. I don’t know what will happen, but I enjoy my day to day coaching. I love my players and the environment we have created at the club. I get up very early every day and I swear I have in my stomach the desire to go to work. We have made a great group and we know what direction to go in.

Q. Did you see yourself winning the Premiership at some point?

A. In many moments. The team gave me arguments and we had a connection with the people. People believed in it. But when we started to get injuries, I felt it was going to cost us. The level of demand could not be maintained. If you want to win the Premiership against City, you have to get to April-May with all players available and at their best. And we, because of injuries, didn’t get there.

Q. It was a young, inexperienced team.

A. We were a good mix of experience and youth. The more experienced ones were role models for the youngsters. And then, we were lucky enough to take a generation from the Academy with a lot of potential, and we were able to develop their talent so that the team has harmony. They have fun, they compete and that will lead us to win.

Q. The Academy ‘jewel’ is Saka. If he were on the market, would he cost more than 100 million?

A. I have no idea. There are the little machines where you put in all the data and variables… and they give you the price. Saka is very good and very consistent. His performance and numbers at the age of 21 are crazy. He is very hungry, he wants to improve and he has an ideal environment to do it. If I had to pick one thing it would be his ability to win games, and not many have that. Also with Martinelli, Gabriel [Jesus] or Odegaard.

Q.How did you make Odegaard a star?

A. I think that is his merit. His self-motivation is brutal, he understands everything very well and learns quickly. We helped him by giving him responsibility and confidence by making him captain. I explained it to him: ‘With this will come more demand and your ability to transmit will be the key. Be you,’ I told him. Martin is very reserved, but when he speaks, you listen to him. He does everything that is required: he takes care of himself; he cares and improves others; he has education, love for the game, commitment.

And he believes he has to play closer to the penalty area: play less and get there more. His numbers are very good: the inside player with the most goals in the history of the Premier League along with Lampard. And he can still improve at the age of 24.

Q. Is Declan Rice so good that Arsenal are considering buying him for more than 100 million euros?

A. I can’t talk about players who are not at the club. I prefer not to say anything.

Q. So, the signing of Havertz is out of the question?

A. Talent has a price and, at Arsenal, we are always interested in young players with experience. I repeat, I am not talking about players from other clubs, but, in the case of Kai, he has already shown a lot, including a Champions League. He is a talented, versatile player and he is only 24 years old.

Q. Arsenal seem to be looking a lot at Man City players. Why is that?

A. Easy, because they are very good, I know them and I coached them for four years. Both Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko won me over from the human side, as well as the mentality and the talent they have.

Q. This summer there will also be money to invest. That is key.

A. We have already regenerated the squad, with a very young average that will generate performance and value. We have owners who are aligned with us: to build a winning team that can be sustained over time, without too much investment. But the demands are increasing and we have to go to the market to find what we don’t have to keep improving.

Q. It is believed that City is the one that invests the most year after year. But that’s not true. In fact, even Arsenal have been number one in spending in some seasons… What does that tell you?

A. It depends on what you evaluate: net value or investment in one year, three years or 10 years? Or that you also value salaries. The investment point is one and the revaluation is perhaps more important: how much a player you buy is worth in ‘so many’ years. There is investment with return and revaluation. That is our strategy to sustain ourselves.

Q. Summary: Is it possible to win the 23-24 Premiership?

A. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be sitting here. That is our ambition. We know the difficulty: it’s the best league in the world and next season is going to be the toughest league in Premiership history. Why? It already was last year. I’ve been here for 22 years and I’ve never seen a competitive level like that. So much quality, so much organization, so many resources, so many good coaches… and now Pochettino and Iraola are coming. That’s the level and to win the Premiership you have to be the best. That’s why you have to strengthen.

Q. To win the Premiership, do you need to play well or is that debate not in England at all?

A. No, there is no debate here. I want to play in the best way with the idea that we have. Some days it will be this way, some days it will be that way, but the opponent has to be subdued. The Premier League penalizes you as soon as you make a mistake. Playing well here doesn’t mean having it a lot. There are a thousand other things you have to master. Possession is not enough.

Q. Are you still surprised that the stadium chants your name?

A. We all like to be praised and to be recognised for what we do. Above all, I want the Gunners fans to enjoy themselves and play every ball with us, to feel like they are part of the goal of winning.

Q. Were you offered PSG this summer? This newspaper knows for a fact that you were.

A. I can only say that I am happy at Arsenal. I feel loved, valued by our owners, Stan and Josh [the two Kroenkes], and I have a lot to do here at this club. I am happy and tremendously grateful to be at Arsenal.

Q. Is it a coincidence that there are four Basque coaches in the Premier League next season? Julen Lopetegui (Wolves), Unai Emery (Villa), Andoni Iraola (Bournemouth) and you.

A. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. We must have some common patterns. I do not know if it is that the Basque character connects well with the English, the style, the way of being, our seriousness.

Q. Do you get along with everyone?

A. Yes, I was even team-mates with Iraola at Antiguoko when we were 13-14 years old. He was a (playmaker) and I was a right-sided midfielder. I already knew that Andoni wanted to go abroad and I’m not surprised that he came to the Premier. I’m happy for him. 25 years ago we were teammates and now … in the Premier League.

Q. How did you see the last La Liga, do you have time to watch any games?

A. Of course, especially the ones at night, which are better for me. Besides, my children watch it a lot. There is always football on TV.

Q. Do you like Xavi Hernández?

A. I’ve known him since we played together at Barça. Just knowing his character and how he feels about the game, it was clear to me that Barça needed a figure like him. He has been able to withstand the pressure and has been true to his ideas, always defending the club and the players. The team has been very reliable all year.

Q. Would you coach Barcelona or Real Madrid… if one day you found yourself out of Arsenal?

A. Spain is my country. I’ve been away for many years and at some point it could be an option to return to La Liga and have other experiences. But for now…

Q. One last question: Do you think you can now recognise that you are a better coach than you were as a player?

A. Uff, that’s a tough one. I’ve only been at this for four years and my goal is to be the best in the world, but not just on a personal level, but to be the best manager in the world for Arsenal, to help these players and this club to be the best. To play better than anyone else… and to be able to win.

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GS14

This Charming Man!

Left Testicle

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

Tapps

The Queen is dead. Unrelated, but true.

Johnny 4 Hats

Havertz knows I’m miserable now

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

I have this feeling that Havertz is going to remind us all of falling in love again for the first time – from both sides. At first you’re unsure and you don’t want to approach them for fear of rejection and embarrassing yourself – but once you’re comfortable you feel you can express yourself freely and you’ll remember it for the rest of your days (for better or worse)

Mark

The death of an Isco transfer.

Gaby! Gabi! Gabé!

Our Arsenal

Malvin

Honestly this man is taking us places.

Y3mmxiii

Good lad.

Collino

Excellent man!

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

The thing that always strikes me when MA is interviewed is the authenticity in what he says. He is calm and collected and the reason for this is because what he is saying is the truth. There is no searching for convenient answers because he does not need to tell us what we want to hear – he tells us what he feels and it just so happens to be exactly what we want to hear. Whilst last seasons outcome still stings I am more excited than I can ever recall from 30 years of supporting arsenal – and it… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

“I don’t want to talk about players who aren’t our players”, I’ve heard Ancelloti, Pep, Poch, Mourinho, whoever coaching use that phrase. I understand why but “authenticity” has a limited meaning in football.

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

It’s a little something called mutual respect. Why talk about players that you’ve not yet signed?

Gunnar Elí

The difference in the quote about Rice and Kai
Make me wonder if rice isn’t the midfielder that we are looking at

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

We are 100% all in on rice – he is the missing piece to the jigsaw and MA knows this. More interceptions and recoveries than any other PL player last season – this is what we need to instigate a fast counter – then give it to one of our two no.10s who operate at 8 to move it on… A Havertz Rice Odegaard CM with Zinny dropping in to a double pivot whilst KH, MO and GJ pull the opposition in a hundred directions and play those killer balls to BS, GJ and GM is where we are headed… Read more »

It Is What It Is

Bear in mind, West Ham get bombarded.

Gunnery

Sounds more like talking about a player who we’ve signed vs one we haven’t.

Gooner7190

Really? His just pulled Rule #1 from Arsene’s Big Book of Transfer Talk

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

I thought rule no.1 was we don’t talk about Andre Santos

Ellis McPickle

I trust it was said with a cheeky all knowing grin.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Only means that Havertz is a done deal. I didn’t hear something in the line of “ultimately, players should go where they want to go”. That is a problem.

Tasneem Ayub

Thanks for putting this up in English so quickly!

Nkem Peter

Completely brilliant!

Ben

The PSG question and answer is interesting. Not quite sure how to interpret it.

Ozzie

He got the offer and he said no.

A Different George

I think for all top managers, the PSG question and answer, though unspoken, are the same: “I would be crazy to go there, where I would have little control, where I would have no idea who or why the club is buying or selling, where most games are meaningless . . . but, my God, the money they are offering!”

A Different George

The Basque thing is really a bit weird. I think they’re all four from Gipuzkoa, whose population is around 700,000.

Ebo

One thing England and Basque country have in common – it rains all the f**ing time. Which sort of makes you feel like you might as well get to work, because there’s not fun being had outside anyway.

kaius

F*#k the transfer market – Arteta’s coaching is Arsenal’s biggest level-raiser. Great to see his hunger and appetite for this new season

BillyKrystal

You aren’t going anywhere, MA. Not until a few more trophies, banners, and a statue outside.

Man Manny

We are getting Rice in; Lavia and Timber are coming too; Kai is in already; we are winning the Premier League next season.

Heavenly Chapecoense

“Were you offered PSG this summer? This newspaper knows for a fact that you were.”
Jeez Marca, why do you ask if you know for a fact?

Aleksander Włodarz

Rice, Rice Baby…

Aleksander Włodarz

Last night I dreamt we won the league…

John

May God make your dream come true!

Heavenly Chapecoense

Anybody thinks we should go after Rabiot?

Heiku

Nah he’s a dick.

Havertz and Timber look like done deals.

Rice appears 50/50 between us and City.

Lavia I suspect is dependent on what happens with Rice and Thomas. We won’t have all three of them, otherwise Lavia would rarely start a game.

escapepod303

I prefer it when Arteta is his most animated on the sidelines

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