Arsenal star 'excellent option' for world's best team

Mikel Arteta has been praised by a Spanish editorial with regard to a potential call-up to the Spanish national team.

Mikel Arteta is a key part of Arsenal's success, just like he was at Everton before him, yet when it comes to the Spanish national side he can't get a look in.

To describe him as a 'forgotten man', as newspaper Marca did this week, is right on the money.

But perhaps winds are changing? With Xavi coming under criticism for performances in his homeland with Barcelona- and Xabi Alonso suffering several fitness issues over the past year, alternate options are already being suggested ahead of this summer's World Cup, at least as deputies.

The popular Spanish newspaper devoted an editorial to Mikel Arteta this week, which is the fourth most popular on their website, praising the 31-year-old Arsenal midfielder.

More than that, they go onto tip him as a surprise call-up for the Spanish national team:

"Spain has an embarrassment of riches in midfield, but Arteta would be an excellent option as a second anchorman, which was just what 'La Roja' sorely missed at the Confederations Cup when Xabi Alonso was out injured.

"His dynamism and range of passing are major assets going forward, while defensively speaking he wins back possession on a regular basis. A complete midfielder, he is also a dead-ball specialist to boot.

"Spain could surely do much worse than giving the Basque-born schemer an opportunity, even at this late stage of his career."

You would be hard pressed to find a fan of Arsenal or his former club Everton who would disagree that Arteta deserves recognition for his stellar career to date.

Underrated in his homeland, there is no illusion in the Premier League as to his star quality.

In the Premier League, Arteta ranks as the highest midfielder when it comes to pass completion rate, while his tackles per game ratio also is among the 20 best in the league.

PlayerTeamPosPass completion rate %Tackles won per game averageInterceptions won per game average
Mikel Arteta Arsenal MF 92.40 2.18 1.71
Mathieu Flamini Arsenal MF 92.38 1.17 1.56
Ki Sung-Yueng Swansea MF 91.32 1.50 0.80
Lucas Leiva Liverpool MF 91.26 2.74 2.53
José Cañas Swansea MF 91.14 1.18 2.41

Arteta ranked among the top of the Premier League for his passing last season, and the year before. There is little doubt he would fit seamlessly into Spain's midfield if given the chance.

Spain boss Vicente del Bosque handed a surprise call-up to Michu at the end of last year, and with several friendlies to be played over the next few months ahead of the World Cup, the call of a lifetime may yet be awaiting one of Arsenal's most reliable performers. 

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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