Arsenal change mind over Mikel Arteta contract offer

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Arsenal have opened contract talks with club captain Mikel Arteta and are willing to offer the Spanish midfielder a year extension to his current contract, which expires at the end of the season.

Arteta has become an important part of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger's plans since completing a £10 million switch to the Emirates on transfer deadline day three years ago, installed as skipper in the summer following Thomas Vermaelen's move to Barcelona.

The former Everton linchpin divides opinion in North London and news of a deal which see Arteta play for Arsenal at 33 will likely leave some Gunners fans furious, but the Daily Mail believe both player and club are keen to get a deal signed and keep the experienced midfield anchor playing at the highest level.

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Injury niggles won't disrupt contract talks

Arteta is currently on the sidelines with a calf problem that has blighted a frustrating start to the season, already missing four games for Arsenal in all competitions before October.

That injury flared up again in Saturday's North London derby and forced Arteta off the pitch well before half-time, also ruling him out of tomorrow night's clash with Galatasaray and next weekend's pivotal Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Arsenal are not concerned by those worries in the long-term though and negotiations over the terms of Arteta's extension are well underway.

It still represents something of a surprising contract u-turn though, particularly when Arsenal were widely reported to have made their minds up Arteta would be politely shown the door when the current campaign concludes.

For many Gunners fans Wenger's change of heart borders on baffling, showing support for a player who while technically gifted has failed to improve an effective midfield enforcer in big matches against their Premier League rivals, particularly away from home.

Wenger making moves to secure futures of key stars

With the transfer window firmly slammed shut Arsenal are making a concerted effort to secure the futures of first-team regulars, with Olivier Giroud the first man targeted for fresh terms that will run until 2018.

Theo Walcott and Arteta are next in line and Arsenal are confident both men will be more than receptive to their plans for the future.

Arsenal fans are desperate for Wenger to go out and sign a proven, world-class holding midfielder, but regardless of that desire they can expect Arteta to be fighting for a regular starting spot well into next season, a man the Gunners boss thinks can still cut it as a rotation option in the Premier League for another 18 months.

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Mikel Arteta
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