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Mikel Arteta left Everton for 'the biggest stage'

The Spanish midfielder says it was wrench to leave the club he loved, but the allure of the Champions League made him opt for move to Arsenal.

New Arsenal signing Mikel Arteta does not feel he let Everton down with the manner of his exit from the club.

The Spaniard's late decision to force through a transfer on Wednesday night when Everton had initially turned down a 10 million (Dh59.8m) bid from the Gunners somewhat soured his exit.

David Moyes, the Everton manager, had no intention of selling the 29 year old but once it became clear Arteta was agitating for a move the Scot quickly decided he did not want to keep an unsettled player.

The only down side was it came so late it gave Everton no chance to find an adequate replacement.

"It is a big opportunity for me and my family and I think it is the right time for me to take it," Arteta said.

"It is a big challenge, a different challenge, fresh for me and I want to see myself on the biggest stage, the Champions League.

"I am 29 years old so I haven't got much time left to take a chance like this one. I think I have done my best for Everton. I always try hard, I have been as professional as I could and I was grateful for the support and the love that the club and the fans showed me."

Per Mertesacker, another of Arsenal's new arrivals, says his signing was not a knee-jerk reaction by the club after they were humiliated 8-2 by Manchester United last week.

"I don't think my transfer was [Wayne] Rooney's fault," the German international told reporters, referring to the United striker's hat-trick on Sunday which helped condemn Arsenal to their heaviest league defeat since 1927.

"I don't think that [the defeat by United] was the reason, I want to believe they [Arsenal officials] were monitoring me for quite some time. For me is a childhood dream comes true," he added after his move from Werder Bremen.

Joachim Loew, the Germany coach, said his defender had made the right move.

"Per will develop immensely at Arsenal. They stress that you have to play with two touches, play it quicker out of defence," said Loew.

Meanwhile, Eljero Elia, the Dutch winger, has revealed there was interest in him from Arsenal before he moved to Juventus.

Elia, 24, told www.onsoranje.nl: "My agent did have contact with Arsenal, but it took too long. I had no contact with Arsene Wenger.

"Wigan, Everton, Fulham and Newcastle had fairly concrete interest."

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