Mikel Arteta has signed a new three-year contract with Arsenal. The announcement has come as a slight but pleasant surprise for Arsenal fans, who would have likely expected any contract announcements to have come at the end of the season.
Arsenal confirmed European qualification in their 1-2 win over West Ham United last Sunday, but could yet qualify for the UEFA Champions League, if they retain 4th place by the end of matchday 38, which would be well ahead of schedule for the Arsenal board.
Arsenal Women’s team manager Jonas Eidevall has also signed a new deal with the club, which will run out at the end of the 2023/24 season.
Arteta’s time at Arsenal has been something of a mixed bag up to this point. What started off with a brilliant win in the FA Cup final, was soon followed by victory over Liverpool in the Community Shield. However, the honeymoon period soon ended when Arsenal’s form utterly tanked during the beginning of last season. With results stacking against them, Arteta did manage to oversee a turnaround in form as well as the integration of youngsters such as Emile Smith Rowe, but the damage was ultimately done when Arsenal finished in 8th place with no hope of European football.
I think the timing is perfect, I really believe the message will be a big lift to everyone. To the fans, to the club, to the players, to Mikel.
It’s important to show everyone where we want to go as a club. We are going to face a big summer again and it’s important to have our manager here.Edu Gaspar, Arsenal Technical Director
This season has seen a marked improvement. With an appalling start to the season, which saw the club lose their opening three matches with nine goals conceded and none scored, Arsenal soon began to pick up speed and have been one of the best performers in the league this season, aided and abetted by the signings of players like Martin Ødegaard & Benjamin White and the renewed defensive solidity from set-pieces, courtesy of set-piece coach, Nicolas Jover.
Arteta has won plenty of plaudits for his hard-line toward discipline. Arteta famously fell out with Mattéo Guendouzi after his outburst against Brighton & Hove Albion at the end of his first season, but he has also challenged the attitude of older players too, such as Mesut Özil, who was exiled from the team entirely last season, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was not only stripped of the captaincy in December, but was also released from his contract in January in order to join Barcelona, a contract that Arteta incidentally played a huge part in the Gabon striker signing.
This is a very big statement from the club for the long-term future of the club as well. With the race for the top 4 already at a fever pitch, Arsenal will want to move forward with their likely ambitious summer recruitment plans, which will likely be contingent on the manager’s future and also on the club’s European status.
Arteta has been given a slightly easier time of things than his predecessor, Unai Emery. Arteta is the Arsenal’s manager, while Emery, who recently took his Villarreal side to a Champions League semi-final, was merely the team’s head coach. The distinction is important as Arteta wields a lot more power at Arsenal than Emery ever did, with Arteta having a say in transfers, staff recruitment and more.
Arsenal’s preparation for their penultimate home game of the season against Leeds United on Sunday is well underway, but Arsenal’s players will likely be bolstered by the news that Arteta will be extending his stay with the club, popular as he is with the squad.
Meanwhile, Arsenal fans will be hoping that Arsenal can take one step closer to Champions League qualification on Sunday and that Liverpool do the business at home to Tottenham Hotspur and that Arsenal themselves are also preparing new contracts for players such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
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