Arsenal have mainly been in the headlines regarding transfers for all the wrong reasons this summer as they continue to fight tooth and nail to keep hold of star striker Robin van Persie. However, a ray of light in terms of their transfer business has emerged the past few days, with news that the club could be close to clinching the signing of Malaga’s Santi Cazorla for a fee believed to be in the region of £16m – and he could truly be the club’s surprise package next year.
It would be no understatement to say that Cazorla is currently the best player in Spain not playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid. To put it mildly, he is quite honestly a superb player. Comfortable on either wing, possessing speed of thought and movement coupled with an excellent dead ball delivery on him, he’s a consistent goal threat from distance and he suits the way Arsenal play down to the ground.
He would also make a huge step up on what the club currently has in wide areas. I’ve long since suspected that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is going to be utilised in the coming campaign in a more central role this term, but that still leaves, assuming Wenger continues with the 4-3-3 formation we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the side of late, the likes of Gervinho, Walcott, Podolski and even Andrei Arshavin to contest a starting spot with.
Walcott has improved gradually over the last few seasons and there’s a tangible end product to his game these days, even if he still has the potential to frustrate. Podolski scored 18 goals for relegated Bundesliga side FC Koln last season in a central role, but having signed Olivier Giroud and keeping in mind the system Wenger prefers, he could be pushed out wide on the left much like the role he occupies for the German national team.
Arshavin showed glimpses of form at Euro 2012 with Russia and has by all accounts been a success on his return to his homeland during his short-term loan spell with Zenit, but he’s still likely to be moved on this summer. Meanwhile, Gervinho disappointed in hsis first full season in England and the pressure really is on him to improve next season otherwise he may be deemed surplus to requirements at the Emirates.
Mikel Arteta, who for a time was to my mind at least, the best player outside the top four while he was at Everton, had this to say on Cazorla: “I cannot talk about the actual situation, but I can say that I know him as a player really well. And he’s a top, top player. He has got unbelievable quality and talent and that is all I can say. While Arsene Wenger echoed this, leaving the possibility of a move open to interpretation, stating: “I share the opinion of Mikel Arteta. Cazorla is a great player. We bought Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, but we are not at the end of the transfers. We will still bring players in.”
The financial situation at Malaga at present is murky at best, but it does appear that the club are willing to listen to offers for their talisman and a move for the Spaniard would mark a real statement of intent. I’d much rather have a proven international player with bags of experience in Cazorla as opposed to the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar, who for all of their potential, simply don’t represent anything close to the same value for money of this deal.
Cazorla is a hugely versatile operator, he can pass the ball well off either foot and he’s comfortable in a whole host of attacking roles. His low centre of gravity also means he can be extremely difficult to mark as he can change direction in a flash and on top of that, he’s a hard-working winger, the complet antithesis of what Arshavin came to represent.
If it sounds like I’m looking forward to seeing him strut his stuff, then you’d be right, he’d be a fabulous purchase for the entire league it what is shaping up to be an exciting summer in the transfer market. Even if he doesn’t play for your club, he’s a neutrals favourite and he’d definitely put bums on seats.
Arsenal may well still lose their captain this summer in Van Persie, but a move for Cazorla would represent a huge transfer coup as the club seek to keep pace with their rivals. He’s got the style, temperament and quality to be a huge success in the top flight. It’s been a long time since Wenger was able to pull a rabbit out of the hat like this, but Cazorla could have a significant impact on the shape and realistic ambitions of the club next season. He truly is a game-changing player and a potentially season-defining signing.
You can follow me on Twitter @JamesMcManus1