Mikel Arteta may have played his last game for Arsenal after the club confirmed he faces three months out after undergoing ankle surgery on an existing injury that has kept him sidelined the end of November.
The Arsenal captain was injured in the 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates and he limped off in the 67th-minute, and after a lengthy time on the sidelines the decision was taken to send him under the knife in order to correct the problem. That means the midfielder, who will be 33 by the time he returns to training in April, could have played his final match for the Gunners with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.
A club statement issued on their website read: “Mikel Arteta has undergone surgery to his left ankle to remove a bony spur, which has been causing the captain significant inflammation and discomfort over recent months.
“The procedure went well and Mikel will now begin a period of rehabilitation which is expected to last approximately three months.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed the full extent of the injury, which was causing inflammation of the ankle plus pain in his calf, and he confirmed that the operation had gone according to plan.
Wenger said: “Mikel has had surgery which went well. I have just seen him, he is back with us at the training ground.
“He had a limited mobility in his ankle and some persistent inflammation that had an impact on his calf. That meant we had to make the decision to have surgery and it's a proper solution which gives him the best chance to recover.”
Arteta was awarded the armband in the summer on a full-time basis following the transfer of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona, although as Vermaelen’s vice-captain he regularly skippered the side in the Belgian defender’s prolonged absence.
Fans have shown frustration against Arteta’s inclusion in the team this season given that he is not a natural holding midfielder that Wenger chooses to deploy in the defensive role, and any arrival – who joins the club in January or the summer – is likely to replace Arteta with Mathieu Flamini signed on for next season already.
Arteta was already absent, but he is one of seven players currently injured among the Arsenal squad in a season that has been blighted by injury. Fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere is not due to return from his own ankle injury until the end of February.
Mathieu Debuchy has also been ruled out for three months having undergone surgery on the dislocated shoulder he suffered in the 3-0 victory over Stoke last weekend.
Wenger confirmed: "Mathieu had a surgery on his right shoulder following the injury on Sunday. It's very unfortunate for Mathieu, it's unbelievable because he's had two surgeries in the same season.
"He just came back, he played seven games and he's out again. I count three months out for Mathieu because contact will be a problem for the shoulder."
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