When Arsenal made their move in the transfer market last summer, it was noteworthy that all six signings arrived at the club with a very decent grasp of English.
While hardly surprising in the cases of Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White, from Stoke and Poole respectively, and Martin Odegaard, who had already been on loan at the club, it was definitely welcome to find Nuno Tavares, Sambi Lokonga and Takehiro Tomiyasu were also very competent communicators.
Given Mikel Arteta believes language “is the platform for everything” we can assume the club’s recruitment process prioritised players who had the ability to assimilate on the language front from the get-go.
It might also explain why other players have fallen by the wayside. Lucas Torreira, for example, continues to struggle with English and has barely featured under the Spaniard.
Speaking to Arsenal.com, Arteta, who turns 40 today, explained why learning English is non-negotiable.
“Playing in one of the more difficult leagues in the world is a different challenge depending on where you have come from,” he said.
“But also it’s about how much they do to adapt. They might not speak English when they arrive, but what can you do in a month or two months?
“They might say ‘it’s difficult for me’ but how much are you really trying? Because for me the language is an absolute basic. It’s the platform for everything.
“If not, you cannot communicate, make yourself understood or noticeable. You cannot create your figure, your identity, within the dressing room and the club without being able to communicate.”
He added: “It’s impossible, so I always put a lot of emphasis on players when they arrive – the first thing is you have to learn the language. You have to be able to communicate.
“That’s whether you are coming from the academy or not it doesn’t matter – you have to be able to talk with your teammates. It’s something we talk about because in my opinion it’s a key to success.”
Arteta also spoke about the importance of creating a shared sense of belonging for players, staff and supporters. It’s a drum he’s been banging for a long time and he finally feels like he’s making progress.
Not only is his side challenging for a place in the Champions League, the entire mood and narrative around the club is one of optimism rather than division.
He said: “Until now I think one of the biggest successes has been to create – as a club – a culture and an atmosphere where our players, staff and everyone can feel that this is a place where they can fulfil their potential.
“It is a place where they can grow, they can participate and everyone can add value to the club. When you get that, you create a real sense of belonging and that’s something more powerful than just personal interest. I think that’s been one of our biggest wins so far.”
He added: “I just feel lucky to be part of this club, especially at this moment. And especially now when I feel there is a real sense of unity and when I see there is an energy.
“When I visualise the club and when I see the Emirates I see energy and direction. I see we are connected as a club and that empowers me and gives me the energy to say ‘we can do this and we believe.’”
It’s well worth putting five minutes aside and reading the full interview on the official website.