Mikel Arteta is set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his ankle, which could mean he has played his last game for Arsenal.
The uncapped Spaniard established himself as one of the best midfield players in the Premier League during a six-and-a-half year spell at Everton, which ended when Arsene Wenger paid £10million to lure him to the capital in August 2011. With Thomas Vermaelen on the bench, Arteta captained the Gunners to FA Cup glory last May to end a nine-year trophy-drought for the club.
He was then appointed skipper on a permanent basis when the Belgian defender joined Barcelona in the summer, but he has barely had chance to stamp his influence on the team this season due to an ankle injury which has kept him sidelined since November. With his recovery slower than initially expected, Arsenal made the decision to send him under the knife to correct the problem.
As a result, Arteta is now set to miss the next three months of the campaign. Although this means he should return to training in mid-April, it will be a challenge for him to regain full fitness and force his way back into Wenger’s first team. And as the player, who will turn 33-years-old in March, is out of contract in the summer, he could well have played his last match for the FA Cup holders.
“Mikel has had surgery which went well,” Wenger revealed on Thursday. “I have just seen him, he is back with us at the training ground. He had a limited mobility in his ankle and some persistent inflammation that had an impact on his calf. That meant we had to make the decision to have surgery and it’s a proper solution which gives him the best chance to recover.”
Arteta is one of seven players currently unavailable to Wenger, a list which includes Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Debuchy. Better news for the French coach comes in the shape of Krystian Bielik, the Polish midfielder, who looks set to join the Gunners in the coming days. The 17-year-old, of Legia Warsaw, is set to undergo a medical on Friday ahead of a £2.5million transfer.
Is this the end for Arteta, or can he still earn a new contract? Let us know what you think by joining the discussion below.