'You have a headstart' - Barcelona boss Xavi explains why he isn't surprised by Mikel Arteta's success at Arsenal

Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2022-23
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Barcelona boss Xavi has praised fellow Spaniard Mikel Arteta for his success at Arsenal and claimed his background gave him a "headstart".
  • Xavi unsurprised by Arteta's success
  • Arsenal top of Premier League
  • Barca coach praises Arteta's career path

WHAT HAPPENED? Xavi said that simply spending time in Barcelona's academy as a player gave Arteta an early start on becoming a great manager - and working as an assistant to Pep Guardiola didn't hurt, either.

WHAT THEY SAID: "No, he's not surprised me because he had the best references (having worked alongside Pep Guardiola at City) and because if you have played as a central midfielder at Barca you already have a headstart - you have the map of your pitch in your head," Xavi told The Times.

"And because Pepe Reina is a close friend of his and has always spoken very well of him. I had a feeling that Arteta would do very well, but it was just a feeling."

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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Arteta, hired by the Gunners in 2019, endured criticism when he started out but has since won over the majority of supporters with Arsenal flying high under his leadership. A first Premier League title since 2003-04 is in reach with the club top of the division with a game in hand over second-placed Manchester City.



Zinchenko Arsenal Aston Villa 2022-23

Mikel Arteta 2022-23

WHAT NEXT? Barcelona meet Manchester United in the second leg of the Europa League knockout play-off on Thursday, while Arsenal visit Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.