Will Santi Claw Arsenal Back To Greatness?


Another diminutive fancy foreign midfielder who will meander through a million passes before even contemplating a shot? Another signing by Arsene Wenger that isn’t of the class to help close the gap on the two Manchester clubs? Another player who will get sick of not winning trophies and seek out a team who has the prettiest bank balance before long? No siree.

In Santiago Cazorla, Arsenal have signed a player who has the quality required to make an impact akin to that of Dennis Bergkamp, or Thierry Henry before him.

The 27-year-old World Cup and European Championship winner has not been signed by Arsenal to make the midfield all that more elegant, he’s been signed to take the club to the next level. The level that has at times seemed so close, but inevitably eluded them in recent years.

Rarely does Wenger step into the transfer market for a player who is ready to go, one that perhaps doesn’t understand the Arsenal way. Cazorla, however, is not only a finished article, but he is well versed in Wenger-esque philosophies. He's also perfectly aware of the French manager's principles, having consulted his international team mate Cesc Fabregas and former Villareal room-mate Robert Pires, before deciding on the move. 

Cazorla is gifted in the sdame way as the few other elite Spanish midfielders of his generation. He has been a glittering diamond in La Liga’s crown for many years, and though he has not played for one of the country’s big two, and is thus somewhat underappreciated, his quality has not passed by the more astute watchers of the Spanish game.

It was at Villarreal that he truly burst onto the scene, arriving in a small package from Recreativo de Huelva via Real Oviedo, and in that striking bright yellow shirt he produced some dazzling displays. He didn’t have to wear Blaugrana or all white to show his quality; technical prowess, acute change of pace and direction, vision, versatility and general footballing intelligence.

He became a key member of Villarreal’s rise into La Liga’s upper echelons, and duly his own reputation enhanced. A move to the capital nearly came about, but he turned it down; “Not everything is about Real Madrid” he once famously said, as he toiled away with unfashionable Villarreal. It’s phrases like that, as well as his innate creative ability, that have made him a favourite of opposition fans across Spain.

Cazorla is a humble guy, who enjoys a joke around and shows none of the arrogance and attitude that many perceive footballers to have these days. You’re just as likely to see Cazorla rolling around laughing with Mikel Arteta this season, as you are to see him spraying a pass in the channel to get Theo Walcott in behind an opposition defence.

The impact that Cazorla provides at The Emirates will be no less significant than those of David Silva at the Etihad and Juan Mata at Stamford Bridge, and perhaps even more. He is of that ilk.

Spaniards have brought their glorious talents upon British shores in recent years much to the adulation of fans at their respective teams, and Mata and Silva in particular have provided a cutting edge in teams that needed it most.

It’s Arsenal next who will feel the winds of change come their way via Spain, as Cazorla brings them the definition, consistency and guile to elevate The Gunners up alongside the Premier League’s elite once more, and that all important first piece of silverware in a long while.

Santi is a brave and inspirational soul. He relishes responsibility and will not sherk at the thought of a wet Tuesday night in Stoke. He’s proved capable of directing a team on his own, as he moved to Málaga in their search for recognition in Spain; it’s no coincidence that with Cazorla running things from a variety of roles in midfield they achieved their highest ever finish in the league and first ever Champions League berth.

Wide right cutting in, deep lying, or an advanced playmaker - he’s capable of it all. When opponents tried to block him out last season, he simply glided across the turf and posed questions elsewhere. Like his compatriot Andres Iniesta, Cazorla is a master in the art of finding pockets of space and then exploiting them.

Despite being only 27 years-old, he’s vastly experienced in European competition and at international level. Sure he doesn’t start every game for Spain, but neither do Mata, Silva, Fabregas or Busquets.

Cazorla will bring a consistent drive and purpose to The Emirates this season, a moreover a rare dynamic that has perhaps been lacking within Arsenal’s squad. This will aid them both domestically, and in Europe. With his arrival, and Robin Van Persie looking more and more see out his last year with Arsenal, suddenly their current odds of 30.00 to win the Champions League look great value.

Short on stature physically he may be, but in terms of a talismanic figure to rely on, Cazorla will offer an immense presence.

When frustration sweeps around an English ground as Arsenal become smothered just off an opponent’s penalty area, Cazorla will be the heart, brain and eyes assessing where the gaps will appear, and how to exploit them.

Many young faces frequent the Arsenal dressing room, and there is no reason for that to stop, but there is also no reason why that a leading figure like a Cazorla can’t be implemented into Wenger’s philosophy.

Opportunistic as it may be given Málaga’s situation, behind the Cazorla acquisition lays a Wenger’s deep-rooted new manifesto – that of raising Arsenal’s fortunes, developing them into genuine contenders in the big races and not stumbling and crashing into the final hurdle, as we’ve so often encountered this past five years.