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Arsenal: Fabio Vieira could be their new Santi Cazorla

Watch any clip of former Arsenal star Santi Cazorla in action and you are likely to be left salivating at the mouth.

During his days under Arsene Wenger’s tutelage, the diminutive playmaker was one of the classiest operators in the Premier League.

A touch like gold dust, a right foot blessed with sheer elegance and a left peg bettered by very few, he was one of the most complete players in his position.

During his time in north London, Cazorla found the back of the net 29 times – with his most vital goal being a stunning free-kick in their FA Cup triumph against Hull City.

The Spain international also assisted a remarkable 45 goals in the famous red and white, with his ability to supply teammates one of the most consistent elements of his game.

He could evade the press in sublime fashion, tip-toeing and dancing his way out of the tightest of crevices on the pitch while occupying dangerous pockets of space in the final third.

It made him a force to be reckoned with but unfortunately, his days in Islington were taken away from him too early.

He cracked a bone in his ankle and his career at the top level from that moment onwards was done and dusted. The injury would become infected with his skin splitting open repeatedly.

As a result, Cazorla became a self-proclaimed “jigsaw puzzle” with doctors having to take a part of his skin from his arm and attach it to his leg.

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The Spaniard has now successfully returned to football after a whopping 668 days out and is enjoying his time in Qatar where he has been nothing short of a sensation, supplying his club – Al Sadd – with 62 goal involvements in 74 outings.

It has taken Arsenal a great deal of time to try and replace the now 37-year-old with many who possess similar tools struggling to replicate his immense numbers.

In Martin Odegaard, they have found a like-minded technician with the club captain dominating similar areas of the pitch. However, it’s in Fabio Vieira where the Gunners have unearthed a true heir to Cazorla’s coveted throne.

Possessing the ability to play as a number 8, behind the striker and on the flanks, his positional familiarity is very much like Arsenal’s former number 19.

In the words of journalist Freddie Paxton, Vieira’s touch is “top-class” with that yet another symbol of how alike the two players are. That was seen most recently against Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League.

The Portuguese dynamo plucked the ball out of the sky in mesmerising fashion, before delivering a peach of a cross for Rob Holding to head home. That moment was like watching Cazorla, who for so long would supply goals in a similar fashion.

The 22-year-old was brought to the club for an eye-watering sum of £34m in the summer but has taken to English football like a duck to water.

He was signed as an unknown quantity despite seven goals and 16 assists for Porto last term, but is quickly showing that similar numbers could well be forthcoming at Arsenal. To date, the youngster has found the net on two occasions and provided an assist throughout his limited game time at the Emirates Stadium.

His first goal for the club was a sumptuous strike, with Vieira unleashing an effort with Cazorla-esque bend and whip that came off the post and found the back of Brentford’s net.

Mikel Arteta has already described the Portugal international as a “special talent” and on the evidence above, it’s easy to see why.

Vieira has the world at his feet and has fitted seamlessly into Arsenal’s young and exciting squad. He has been the perfect addition, and one that is quickly filling that Cazorla-shaped hole that still lingered around Colney.

Article title: Arsenal: Fabio Vieira could be their new Santi Cazorla

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