Arteta praises Kroenkes after talks about Arsenal's top four dreams

‘The vision they have, the commitment and level of understanding is fascinating’: Mikel Arteta heaps praise on Stan and Josh Kroenke after talks with Arsenal’s big-spending owners about masterminding the club’s top-four return

  • Mikel Arteta has had multiple conversations this week about Arsenal’s future
  • The Gunners have welcomed many new stars, including Oleksandr Zinchenko
  • Arsenal’s outlay of £120m on new stars is more than any other top flight club 
  • Arteta understands the challenges that face the Emirates side this season 

It turns out this is one of the less significant conversations of Mikel Arteta’s week.

The Arsenal manager pauses to chat near the edge of a lagoon which runs through the surreal sprawl of Universal Studios. His more pressing engagements have been behind closed doors.

Over recent days, Arteta has been finalising the signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko. Technical director Edu arrived in Orlando as they plan more comings and goings. Stan and Josh Kroenke were in town briefly, too.

The owners have invested heavily to right the wrongs of last season, when Arsenal threw away Champions League football. And they met the manager at a crucial juncture in his tenure.

Mikel Arteta has been busy this summer negotiating Arsenal’s incoming and outgoing players

‘I’ve been really impressed,’ Arteta says. ‘They were here for two days, we had a lot time to sit down in a really relaxed way: talk about football, the sport in general.

‘The vision they have, the commitment and level of understanding of the sport in general is fascinating.

‘I can tell you: I have never seen ownership at that level so committed, close and engaged to bring this club where we want.’

It is a bold claim when you consider that Arteta has been at some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

And when you flick through recent history. It is, after all, little more than a year since simmering unrest at the ownership boiled over into furious protest and thousands of supporters gathered outside the Emirates to demand regime change.

The club’s doomed attempt to join the European Super League was merely the spark that turned the skies red with smoke in north London.

‘I think before, we could have a perception of what they were,’ Arteta says.

‘I think it’s completely changed, I think that’s been shown with facts and acts. Their presence here as well. Something is to be here and something is to be here the way they were. I guarantee you: they are fully committed, engaged and really looking forward to taking this club to the top.’

Oleksandr Zinchenko, centre, is one of many new additions signed by Arteta and Edu (left)

This is about more than keeping his bosses sweet.

Arteta is right, evidence is there. Three years ago, the Kroenke family were hounded when they attended an Arsenal friendly in Denver. There was no such vitriol this week, when they watched Arsenal face Orlando City.

Instead, their box was a magnet for supporters and cameras giddy to catch a glimpse of Zinchenko. His £32million arrival took Arsenal’s summer spending up to around £120million. As it stands, the north London club have forked out more than any other Premier League team – for the second year running.

Few things sate grumbling supporters like pound notes. But for how long can Arteta hope – less expect – such generous cheques?

‘If you look at how other teams have done it and where we were, there is a transition moment where that smile has to change at some stage.’

Arteta draws a graph’s upward curve with his hand.

‘We are not spending the money, we have made big investments, but investment for the future with huge talent and a lot of performance,’ the manager adds.

‘Possibly in the future we have to do something to have a squad that can sustainably be financed by itself. That’s the objective.’

This summer, Arsenal have already added five new faces – Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus, Fabio Vieira, Matt Turner and Marquinhos.

They have moved quickly and more reinforcements could still follow.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner is one of five new faces at the Emirates as Arsenal look to strengthen

‘I’m really happy,’ Arteta says. ‘For what we planned and where we are today, we are pretty far (along).

He adds: ‘Everything is going really well and now it’s about finalising what we wanted to do. Obviously we have a big squad and some of the players have to leave and we’re trying to get that balance right.’

One striking feature of Arsenal’s transfer business has been Arteta’s personal pulling-power. It must be satisfying to hear that players want to play for him – and believe in his project.

‘I’m very pleased because they really want to do it because they feel it,’ says Arteta, who has been ruthless in trying to rid the dressing room of toxic influences.

‘Now we have players who feel this way of playing, this way of being, this way of behaving and everything is natural. I think that’s very powerful and somewhere we weren’t a few years ago.’

The next step? Paying off that refurbishment with results on the pitch. Last season’s near-miss was doubly painful – not only did Arsenal surrender a top-four place, they opened the door to rivals Tottenham.

‘It was really tough,’ Arteta says. ‘But I know where we were, what we have and now where we want to be as well.’

Only after a forensic comb through all that went wrong.

Arteta is prepared for a tough season, and he hopes stars like Martin Odegaard (above) shine 

‘First off it is more than a mistake,’ the manager adds. ‘To understand why it happened – what is your responsibility? What you can do more? And then get facts. Whether where we were was realistic, sustainable, why we did it and what we didn’t achieve, what at the end we could have achieved. And move on. There’s no time for regrets.’

So what did he discover?

‘I can’t tell you,’ Arteta smiles. ‘It was very clear, though, I guarantee!’

In less than two weeks, his side can begin to show what lessons have been learned. The new faces will help. ‘(Those) with the right winning mentality, players that have already done it who can inspire others now and push the boat much faster.’

The only problem? Arteta knows the Champions League race is as open as ever.

‘It’s not about the top four, it’s about the top eight or nine right now,’ he says. ‘You think you are doing a lot of things, you look next door and the quality and the squads these boys have is incredible. So we know where we are.’




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