Mikel Arteta has committed his future to Arsenal after agreeing a new deal with the club.
The Spaniard had a year left to run on his existing contract but has penned an extension that should see him stay at Emirates Stadium until 2025 at least.
The deal, which has long been in the pipeline, is a clear show of faith in the 40-year-old from the Kroenke ownership, and a reward for unexpectedly leading a young squad to the cusp of Champions League qualification.
On his decision to put pen-to-paper on new terms, Arteta said:
“I’m excited, grateful and really, really happy today. When I spoke to Josh [Kroenke] he could see the club at the same point and he wanted to take the club the way I wanted to do it. So everything that he’s said, and that Stan has said when I’ve been together with both of them, they’ve always delivered.
“We want to take the club to the next level and to compete really with the top teams. In order to do that, we have to be playing in the Champions League. We have to be able to evolve the team, improve our players, improve all departments, generate even more connection with our fans, improve the atmosphere at the Emirates, be able to recruit top, top talent and the best people for this club to drive this project to that level.”
Having called time on his playing career following a five-year stint at Arsenal, Arteta returned to the club as head coach in December 2019. Within 10 months, he was promoted to the role of manager after leading the Gunners to the FA Cup.
While Arsenal struggled on the pitch last season, leading many disgruntled fans to question whether he was the right man for the job, the 40-year-old has quietly strengthened his position behind the scenes.
In contrast to predecessor Unai Emery, Arteta’s influence extends beyond the dressing room and training pitch, taking in responsibilities on the recruitment front alongside technical director Edu.
He’s also been pushing the club’s hierarchy on other fronts, including improving the connection with the supporters, which he considers crucial to the team’s future success.
Most importantly, despite ups and downs on the pitch and falling out with several high-profile players – several of whom were hastily moved on – Arteta is popular with the current squad and has forged a newfound sense of optimism amongst the fans that the club can mix it with the best sides in the league.
Clearly pleased to get the deal off his ‘to-do’ list, CEO Vinai Venkatesham said of Arteta’s extension:
“The ambition of this football club is simple, and it comes from the owners down. This football club needs to be competing for the biggest trophies in the game, in Europe and in England on the men’s side and on the women’s side. That’s where we want to get to, we know we’re not there yet, but we’re moving towards that goal. I’m hoping everyone can see the progress that we’re starting to make against that goal.
“Today is a really, really important day because Mikel and Jonas recommitting here to us, to Arsenal, to the project and to the journey.
“There’s a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead, but with Mikel and Jonas, we’re convinced we have the right people surrounded by the teams around them that can help us get there.”
Arteta is due to face the press later this afternoon as he and his side gear up for Sunday’s clash with Leeds United.
Arsenal have also confirmed that Women’s team manager Jonas Eidevall has signed a contract extension. We’ll have a separate story on that in due course.