It is probably a little-known fact that former Everton player and Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta turned out for Scotland’s most successful club Rangers. Well, outside of Scotland, of course.
It was 2002 when 19-year-old La Masia sensation Mikel Arteta swapped Barcelona for Glasgow for a relatively large fee of £6 million and become Alex McLeish’s first signing.
McLeish said: “Mikel is an excellent young player, and I’m sure he is someone who will really excite the Rangers fans.” Adding: “He comes from a great stable in Barcelona. Everyone can see the quality of La Liga, and he is a prime example of the talent on show in Spain every week.
“I think the fans will see a class act when he pulls on a Rangers jersey next season. He is very comfortable on the ball and he has an excellent touch – and the great thing is his best years are still ahead of him.” (as per The Guardian).
Unfortunately, those ‘best years’ did not arrive in Scotland. There were signs of his ability when he played, but with only seven appearances to his name, those performances were a rarity.
It should be mentioned that he managed to win a Scottish title in his first season at Rangers which, ironically, goes down as his only domestic title as a player – despite all his future success.
And Arteta did not forget that success. Upon announcing his retirement, the Spaniard was quick to thank the Gers faithful ‘respect and loyalty’ they showed him (via Daily Record).
Everton were undoubtedly his most illustrious years, however. Having joined in summer 2005 from Spanish outfit Real Sociedad, he would go on to make 209 appearances for club, scoring 35 goals and claiming 33 assists.
He was the maestro that kept Moyes’ Everton side ticking; the playmaker with all the answer that propped up a relatively average but plucky squad. He was by no means gifted with pace, but his ability to float around the pitch effortlessly was an admirable quality, and surely what Alex McLeish was initially referring to in 2002.
The same could be said for his time at Arsenal, where he captained, but unfortunately, a pretty extensive injury list laid siege to his minutes on the pitch.
Now, the assistant manager to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, there is every chance he could emulate the success of his partner in the future.