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If Arsenal buy a defensive midfielder what happens to Arteta?

Arsenal are heavily linked with a number of defensive midfielders this summer.

The Gunners' sale of Alex Song to Barcelona last summer meant that boss Arsene Wenger's only option was to move Mikel Arteta in to a deeper role, deployed as the most defensive of the Frenchman's midfield trio.

Wenger's somewhat risky strategy to effectively convert the Spaniard paid off for the majority of the season - Arteta was one of the North Londoner's most consistent, efficient and effective players.

It's no coincidence that Arsenal's defensive record in 2013 was better than any other team in the Premier League - they secured Champions League qualification over archrivals Spurs via an unbeaten run of 10 games.

It seems increasingly likely, however, that Wenger will bring in a ready-made defensive midfielder, along the lines of Etienne Capoue or Victor Wanyama who have both been linked with a move to Emirates in recent weeks which begs the question: what happens to Arteta?

When he arrived in North London on deadline day back in 2011, he was tasked with replacing the outgoing Cesc Fabregas. The long-term absence of Jack Wilshere due to his 17-month injury layoff meant Arteta was the sole provider of attacking impetus and creativity in 2011/12.

However, following the return to fitness of both Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky and last summer's signing of Santi Cazorla, Arteta's role has changed dramatically.

I questioned in recent weeks whether he ought to remain a holding midfielder next season after performing so consistently there this term. The player himself has said he'll do whatever the boss asks for the sake if the team.

But, it looks increasingly likely that Arsenal will sign someone to fill that role and it's hard to see Wenger opting to leave out Cazorla or Wilshere, provided they're fit.

Arteta is no spring chicken now either - his move from Everton was effectively his last chance at a 'big move' - he's 31 now and he's going to want to play regular first team football.

There is of course an argument to be made that competition for places is a positive thing to ensure form and application is of a high and consistent level.

But, with Aaron Ramsey and even young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain clamoring for three midfield positions along with the aforementioned five (excluding the perpetually-injured Abou Diaby) it's going to take a lot of rotation to ensure they all get games and, especially for the youngsters, they're given time to develop and improve.

Arteta was undoubtedly one of Arsenal's most important players last term and the season before that.

Surely the manager won't leave him on the bench after the incredible work ethic and class he brings to his team? A player with the Spaniard's undoubted quality and class is hard to come by - any potential incomings will have their work cut out for them to dislodge him from Arsenal's team sheet.

image: © wonker

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