The Arsenal midfielder still has fire in his belly this season but the club must begin to think of who they can bring in to be the Spaniard's heir apparent.
Mikel Arteta's passing and penalty-taking ability stand him out as a key man in Arsenal's midfield, let alone the leadership qualities which have seen him handed vice-captaincy duties by Arsene Wenger.
At some point Wenger is going to have to replace the experienced Spaniard and he could do a lot worse than looking at Hamburg's Milan Badelj, despite the struggles of the German side this season.
The acquisition of Mikel Arteta from Everton on deadline day in the summer of 2011 came after the 8-2 drubbing at Manchester United and it's turned out to be one of Wenger's better transfer decisions as he helped fill the void left by Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
At 31-years-old Arteta too will need to be replaced.
Hamburg's Milan Badelj could be the ideal solution. He may not be the most fashionable midfielder, but he is certainly one of the most efficient.
Similarly to Arteta, he does not hold much in the way of goalscoring qualities from midfield, having scored just twice since arriving from Dinamo Zagreb in the summer of 2012. However, he makes up for that with his use of the ball and also offers versatility.
Badelj is most at home in a defensive midfield slot, but can also operate in the number ten role in behind the main striker.
Badelj's agent has claimed that English and Italian clubs have "requested" information on his future, should he decide to leave Hamburg upon their relegation from the Bundesliga.
According to the respected statistics website WhoScored.com Badelj is superior in most departments defensively; tackling (3.8 per game to Arteta's 3.3), interceptions (2.4/1.9) and blocked shots (0.4/0.1), with the Arsenal man's statistics found in the table below.
Badelj also excels offensively however, despite his inferior scoring record this term. He has more assists than Arteta (2/0), shots per game (1.1/0.5) and a significant difference in dribbling per game, with Badelj taking on four to Arteta's 0.5. The Croat's ability to play long passes is also impressive by completing 4.8 per game to Arteta's 4.2.
There are definite similarities between the duo but at the age of 25 and a move to Arsenal could allow Badelj's game to develop considerably.
|Name||Team||Pos||Total Tackle / apps||Interception Won / apps||Outfielder Block / apps||Goal Assist / apps||Total Scoring Att / apps||Won Contest / apps||Accurate Long Balls / apps||Apps||Mins|