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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Arteta shrugs off talk of future with England

Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta insists he has no intention of playing for England and still hopes to pull on the Spain shirt.

A group of Everton fans recently started an online campaign to get the Spanish midfielder picked for England as Arteta has been in the country since January 2005 and under the five-year residency rule would soon become eligible to play for Fabio Capello's side.

The 26-year-old, who has played for Spain's Under-21 side, is far down the pecking order for Spain, behind the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Marcos Senna, Xabi Alonso and Andres Iniesta, but claims he still hopes to be play for the Euro 2008 winners.

"At the moment the idea of playing for England hasn't even crossed my mind,'' Arteta told Spanish sports daily Marca. "I have the desire to play with Spain senior side.

"The truth is that it is an idea that has come about through the fans here. In England legislation states that if you play five years in the country you can play for the England team.

"I've been here for four and so there's this possibility.''

"It's an idea similar to that which was talked about with (Arsenal's Spanish goalkeeper Manuel) Almunia.''

Arteta admits he is flattered by the campaign but is committed to playing for his homeland, even though he knows that will be difficult.

"I appreciate a lot the affection they are giving me and the campaign they are doing for me to play for England, but at the moment I am not planning anything,'' continued Arteta.

"Since I have arrived in England the support of the fans has been constant and I value that a lot. I have played with all the categories of Spain and the hope to play with the full side is there.

"I know that it is very difficult because there are players with a lot of quality but I will fight to achieve it.''

Arteta has been regularly linked with a return to Spain, with the suggestion it would be easier for him to earn a call up if he played in the Primera Liga.

However, the former Rangers and Real Sociedad man claims he is happy to stay put for the time being.

"At the moment I'm very happy in the Premier League,'' added Arteta. "I want to continue enjoying the game they play in England.

"If a very important offer arrives then I would have to study it, but at the moment I haven't planned anything.''

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