Mikel Arteta still hopeful of chance with Spain


Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta still harbours hopes of playing international football for Spain.

Arteta has been one of the most consistent midfielders in the Barclays Premier League for the last seven years but he is yet to earn his first cap for Spain.

The nearest he came to an international call-up was three years ago when he was in his prime at Everton, but he then suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury while playing for the Toffees and he has been off the international radar since.

Arteta has been one of the most impressive performers in what has been an up and down season for Arsenal this term and despite facing competition from the likes of Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta, he still has hopes of turning out for his country.

"My ambition is to win as many trophies as I can and to have the chance of playing for the national team one day," Arteta said.

Arteta, who was born in San Sebastian, had considered playing for England after earning British citizenship but a FIFA bylaw ended any chance he had of representing the Three Lions after it emerged that he had turned out for Spain at the Under-16 and Under-17 World Championships when he did not have a British passport.

The 29-year-old, who started his career at Barcelona, admits he faces a tough task breaking in to Vicente del Bosque's squad, with Xavi being the player he admires most in the current Spanish set-up.

"I have always been a big fan of Xavi," Arteta told Arsenal Player.

"I played and trained with him when I was young. For me consistency is a big thing and he gets rated either eight out of 10 or nine out of 10 every time he plays and he plays 60 or 70 times a year. He is a top, top player for me."

Arsenal's international contingent, including captain Robin van Persie, returned to the club's London Colney base today to start preparations for Saturday's crucial trip to Barclays Premier League rivals Liverpool.

Van Persie looks set to feature in the game against Kenny Dalglish's team despite the groin tweak that he felt prior to Holland's win over England and Wembley last night.

The Arsenal skipper has been in excellent form for club and country this season, scoring 33 times, much to the delight of former Holland and Gunners striker Dennis Bergkamp.

Bergkamp won three league titles and four FA Cups during his time at Arsenal and he now hopes Van Persie will be able to add more medals to his collection despite the club's recent seven-year trophy drought.

He has been playing in a role which is very difficult," Bergkamp told Arsenal Magazine.

"I think it's easier for a guy like Robin or me to play behind the striker, and feed the main striker and sometimes get the space to do your own thing. But basically he is the one up front who has to make a difference, which puts a lot of pressure on him, but it seems like he can deal with it.

"It seems he can make the difference time after time and in my opinion that describes a great player. It's fantastic how he has developed himself, and players like that deserve trophies. So I honestly hope that comes soon, because his character and style of play is fantastic."