Wenger targets Everton ace

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Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger will bid £12 million to sign Everton playmaker Mikel Arteta as a stand-in for the injured Cesc Fàbregas, according to The Sun.

Wenger wants an experienced player who can go straight into his team without needing time to settle in.

Arteta is in his fifth season in the Premier League and would be eligible to play in the Champions League, despite appearing for Everton in the UEFA Cup this season.

It is believed that Wenger had initially hoped to sign Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso, but he knows he does not stand a chance of persuading Rafa Benítez to sell the Spaniard.

Thus, the Frenchman has turned his gaze to the blue half of Merseyside, where dwells Alonso's compatriot, fellow Basque and childhood friend.

Everton paid Real Sociedad some £2 million for Arteta after he impressed during a six-month loan spell at Goodison Park in 2005, and he quickly established himself as one of the most creative and versatile players in the Premier League.

His vision, passing and ability to play anywhere across the midfield has convinced Wenger the former Rangers star is the closest thing to Fàbregas.

Arteta has signed an improved five-year contract at the Toffees in the summer of 2007, but the lure of Champions League football and a higher profile with which finally to claim international recognition, having featured earlier for the U-21s, would be enticing.

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