Mikel Arteta: Spain's most underrated midfield maestro
Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta is one of the most underrated players in Spain
In the golden era of Spanish football, it is obvious that many talented players will fail to appear on the national team's radar.
One such player has been Arsenal's Spanish playmaker Mikel Arteta. The former Everton man, who is yet to play a single game for Spain was arguably the best player for the Gunners last season.
When the likes of Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla hogged the limelight, Arteta stayed behind the scenes and did what he does best - he orchestrated the play in a way none of the other famed players at the Emirates could.
Even though statistics of just six goals and three assists this season may not be the most impressive statistics, one has to remember that Arteta's influence lies elsewhere. The main reason why Arteta has been indispensable for the Gunners is his range of passing. The midfielder completed more than 2750 passes in the league, with only Barcelona's Xavi having completed more in any of Europe's top five leagues. And also to be noted is that he rarely gets a pass wrong - with the midfielder having an impressive pass completion percentage of 91.5%.
Another important aspect of Arteta's game is his skill in providing long balls. It has often been Arteta's long balls which have initiated attacks for the Gunners this season. The Spaniard's versatility has also to be admired, having seamlessly made the switch from a conventional central midfielder to a holding role at Arsenal.
And not only has he acquitted himself well in his new position, he has also been one of the better players in his position in the league, having the fifth highest number of interceptions and being one of the least dribbled past players in the league. To add to that, Arteta has been a handful for the opposition as well, being the most fouled player for Arsenal this season.
It was to Arteta's disadvantage that he spent his prime at Everton - a club not considered among the elite. He was no less impressive at Goodison Park, but the years at Everton cost him an elusive Spanish cap.
It is a far cry to imagine that he could have matched up to the likes of Xavi and Iniesta, but you can now never know, with the player being 31 years of age. Had Arteta made the switch to Arsenal about three to four years earlier than he did, he could well have been a mainstay in the Spanish midfield. But for now, Arteta remains one of the best players to never have played for their country.
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