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Mikel Amatriain Arteta

Squad number 10
Position Midfield
Joined Everton 31 January 2005
Joined from Real Sociedad (Spa)
Signed by David Moyes
Transfer fee £1M loan fee + 2.2M
Debut as sub v Southampton (A)
6 February 2005
Full debut v Man Utd (H)
19 February 2005
Contract duration [½] +  5 + 5 + 5 years
Contract expires June 2012
Left Everton 31 August 2011
Transfered to Arsenal
Transfer Fee £10M
Born San Sebastian, Spain
Date of birth 28 March 1982
Height 5 ft 9 in
Nickname(s) Mikky, "Our Tayta"
Honours Spanish international

Silky skills
Passing and distribution
Direct free kicks
Tremendous Tenacity
Versatile across midfield
Can disappear from games
Slim build

Soccerbase Datafile

In January 2005, with Thomas Gravesen already departed for Real Madrid and time running out to secure some kind of replacement for the mercurial Dane, Mikel Arteta was the surprise deadline-day package brought in by David Moyes on loan at the end of the transfer window. 

Dubious Evertonians viewed the acquisition of a player flying well below the radar and whose career had failed to take off in Scotland as a panic signing.  As a move to bolster Everton's flagging attempts to preserve fourth place and a chance at qualifying for the following season's Champions League; however, it proved inspired. 

Arteta uses the Euskera (Basque) version of his name, not the Spanish Miguel, but Mikel, which is pronounced Mick-ell with the stress on the first syllable. Easy enough for Scousers!  He was deemed to be a talented playmaker — a product of Barcelona's famed youth academy — but, instead of graduating to the senior squad at the Nou Camp, he started his career on loan at Paris St Germain before Glasgow Rangers paid a massive £5.8M for him in July 2002.

In two years in Scotland he made 50 league appearances, scoring 12 goals, plus a further 18 appearances and one more goal in cup competitions.  But he was not happy at Ibrox, yearned to return to his native Spain and was signed by Real Sociedad for £2.7M in the summer of 2004.

Unfortunately for him, he soon found himself curiously out of favour there so when the opportunity to return to Britain with Everton arose barely six months later, the Basque midfielder accepted.

The loan deal struck with Sociedad for the highly-rated 22-year-old included the option for Everton to make the move permanent for a fee of £2.85M in the summer.  But Arteta's failure to settle at earlier clubs was an initial worry, not least the earnest desire to leave Rangers and return to Spain because he was homesick.

Arteta insists he was forced out of Real against his wishes. "I find the situation very strange; perhaps it's best for the club that I move on.  I do not want to create problems for the club.  So I will leave to help the board."

Arteta added: "It's been very difficult to improve my situation at Real Sociedad because I do not have the confidence of the coach in charge, I have never received an explanation as to why I have been continually left out."

Charged with filling the substantial white shoes of Gravesen, Arteta didn't inspire confidence when he started his Everton career by missing a possible debut against Norwich City due to a knee injury.

Eventually, though, Mikel came good for Everton, really starting to excel and take control of the midfield.  A great free-kick powered into the Crystal Palace net was perhaps the peak of his excellent half-season, and the case can certainly be made that he played a key role in securing Everton's place in the 2005-06 Champions League Third Qualifying Round.

At the end of the 2004-05 season, the question of a permanent move exercised the Goodison brass, who needed to act before 31 May in order to take first option on the already agreed £2.8M transfer fee.  But the word was that Arteta wanted a salary of £40k/wk, and that was simply too much for David Moyes.

With Arteta saying that he wanted "to feel more valued by the club" and that he felt "closer to starting pre-season training with Sociedad than... with Everton," the prospect of retaining his services looked bleak.

Ultimately, the situation was resolved and Arteta signed a five-year contract but, while he quickly emerged as the club's best player in 2005-06 and was deservedly voted Player of the Season, he was unable to prevent Everton's European dream from crashing down around them.

First, they were dumped out of the Champions League by the combination of a Riquelme-inspired Villarreal and an uncharacteristic — to the point of downright suspicious — refereeing blunder by Pierluigi Collina in denying a perfectly good Duncan Ferguson goal.

Then, the Blues were ripped the shreds by seemingly innocuous Rumanian side Dinamo Bucaresti and eventually bombed out of the UEFA Cup 5-2 on aggregate. Arteta suffered more than most, taking a vicious hit to the back and neck that left him convulsing on the Goodison turf and sidelined him for a month as he recovered.

But Arteta increasingly became a key player and often the lone creative force as Everton struggled to climb out of the relegation zone.  When he didn't play, the difference was often embarrassing.  So rumours of an impending move to Man Utd in the summer were met with fear and trepidation.  Thankfully they proved to be hogwash.

Arteta continued to be Everton's best player by considerable distance, lighting up Goodison with his sublime skill and mesmerising ball control. No surprise then that he was voted Everton's Player of the Season again, after another superb spell as source of most creativity and flair, briefly supplemented by the cameo appearances of Manual Fernandes.

And true to their word, Everton renegotiated Arteta's contract in June 2007 — even though it still had three years to run — securing a five-year  extension through 2012.  Excellent business for the club, and a brilliant confirmation of their ambition to build a great footballing team.

But Arteta struggled from October 2007 with a niggling stomach/groin muscle injury that no-one wanted to operate on. So we had to suffer Mikey playing worse and worse until the end of the season when they finally admitted the inevitable. And he came back fully refreshed at the start of the 2008-09 season with brilliant if all-too rare free-kick zinger against Blackburn.

Mikey did well until he tore knee ligaments at Newcastle in February 2009, and that was him out for the rest of the season... and most of the next.  After a long, long recovery, fraught with successive disappointments. Our 'Teta was finally back... a little rusty initially, but Oh what a fantastic impact he was to have on Everton's 2009-10 season. 

With their creative players back from injury, Everton finally started to click and Arteta's brilliant contributions were crucial to wins over Man Utd, Man City, starting with the ultimate Champions, Chelsea.  He also got amongst the goals, 6 in 13 starts, and was missed when he picked up a groin strain, Everton only managing frustrating draws against Wolves, West Ham and Aston Villa in his absence.

In the summer of 2010, despite no place in the Spanish World Cup team, Arteta was rumoured as the target of a big money move to Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal then Man City.  This was after some scurrilous Daily Mail crap about his partially sighted son being the reason he would return to Spain.  With 2 years left to run on his contract, Moyes and Kenwright pulled out all the stops to keep him in the Goodison camp as the team jetted off to Australia... and a couple of weeks after they returned, secured the Best Little Spaniard on a new five-year, £75k-a-week deal.

That should have signaled business as usual... but Arteta's 2010 season started poorly; he seemed to have lost some mobility and no longer seemed able to glide past a player. It turns that Moyes had required him to play much deeper. possibly to provide a shorter outball opportunity for the back four, to tackle the hoof-ball problem directly.  But his supply balls and creativity up-front were sorely missed, although he scored a goal against Liverpool, albeit deflected. Also, in the past, he was also willing to stick his foot in when it mattered. But it wasn't seen at all this season as if there's something deeper than a lack of form?

His form was poor, though, and some fans were calling of Moyes to drop him when he got riled with the aggressive tactics of a West Brom player and retaliated after another poor tackle from Ganzalo Jara: a three-match ban, and forced changes required Moyes to improvise.

Eventually there were signs of improvement, his best game coming in March when he was asked to play a wider more advanced role at Newcastle and was instrumental in producing a great win. But three goals was his lowest for a full season, and underlined how the Best Little Spaniard still wasn't really firing on all cylinders.  There were rumours of a move back to Spain in 2011 as well, and even interest supposedly from Arsenal.

That interest from the Emirates resurfaced in late August 2011 following the twin departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, prompting Arsene Wenger to make a deadline-day raid for Arteta. Initially, it looked as though the Frenchman would fail in prising the Blues' top earner away from Goodison Park when it was reported that the midfielder had rejected personal terms. But when talks were revived just two hours before the transfer deadline was due to expire, the two parties came to an agreement and Arteta was gone.

His last act in an Everton jersey was to secure three of the least likely points the Blues won during his time at Goodison — his last-minute penalty at Blackburn Rovers, after the home side had missed twice from the spot themselves, proved to be his swansong.

In the aftermath, there was a perception Arteta was offloaded to pay down the overdraft at Barclays, the club’s bank, but David Moyes insisted that was absolutely not the case.  "Let’s be clear about losing the important player (Arteta)," he said. "I make the decisions here, so it was my decision that the player went. It wasn’t the chairman telling me I have to sell the player or anything like that. It was my decision to sell the player.

"I have always said that I would make the decisions and I am in a very fortunate position to be able to do that. Mikel wanted to go and we had turned down a chance to sell him (to Manchester City) last year.

"I have to do what is right for the club as well, but don’t anybody think that it was down to the chairman about selling Mikel Arteta. If I had said to the chairman "no", the chairman would have been more than happy to say, "no” too.

"But I felt the money we were getting, it was right to take it. It would help the club obviously and the only down side of it was the lateness of how it all came about."

Later, as Everton were about to face Arsenal and Arteta for the first time, the story would develop a slightly different spin, from David Moyes again:

"It was the right time for Mikel and everyone knows we needed the money," said Moyes. "I got a call from the chairman at 3pm on deadline day and at one minute past three Mikel was knocking at my door. All the other players had gone home, and he was in my office saying he wanted to go.

"It was a very difficult situation. We needed to get some cash back in at that time. Then the deal was off for four or five hours, until 8pm at night. Then as you all know it got back on. Do I regret it? No. It was right for Mikel and for the club. Would I want him in my team ? Of course I would."

"We bought him for £2.5m from Real Sociedad and it was a brilliant deal. We sold him for £10m, aged 29. We'd rather have him but I don't think anyone could say it was bad business.

"We appreciated his ability as a player, his technical skill and his style. He had Spanish technique but a British mentality."

By Michael Kenrick and Lyndon Lloyd
Last updated December 2011


Everton Career
Apps (sub)
Apps (sub)
Apps (sub)
10 (2)
1 (0)
11 (2)
27 (2)
8 (1)
35 (3)
35 (0)
3 (1)
38 (1)
27 (1)
8 (1)
35 (2)
26 (0)
5 (0)
31 (0)
11 (2)
2 (1)
13 (3)
29 (0)
3 (1)
32 (1)
1 (1)
1 (0)
2 (1)
166 (8)
31 (5)
197 (13)


Prior Club Record
Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2000-2002 Barcelona - -
2001-2002 Paris St Germain (loan) - -
2002-2004 Rangers 67 (1) 13
2004-2005 Real Sociedad 3 (12) 0


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