Arsenal have today announced the signing of Santi Cazorla on a “long-term deal” from Malaga. The Spaniard arrives at the Emirates for a fee rumoured to be in the region of £16.5m and is the third major signing of the summer for Arsene Wenger’s side, following the early-summer captures of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.
On welcoming Cazorla to the club, Wenger was quick to emphasise the attacking options offered by the Spaniard, immediately creating a debate on how the Gunners will utilise their new man…
“He is a versatile, attacking midfield player who can play comfortably on either side of the pitch or centrally. He has good pace, is technically gifted and will be a huge asset to Arsenal Football Club…We are delighted that he is joining us.”
Cazorla’s career began in the Real Oviedo youth set-up, where he featured for four years before signing for Villarreal at the age of 17. He was gradually introduced to the first-team squad, initially spending a couple of seasons in the Villarreal B team, where he scored four goals in 40 appearances before stepping up to the senior side in 2004. Cazorla struggled to impress, though, scoring just two goals in 51 league matches over couple of seasons and was sold to newly-promoted Recreativo in the 2006-07 season, with a buy-back option inserted in his contract. Netting five times in 34 appearances, he helped the club to eighth place in La Liga and his displays saw Villarreal snap him up once again.
Installed to the Yellow Submarine’s first XI, Cazorla was instrumental in earning his side a runners-up slot in Spain’s top-flight; nine assists and five goals in 36 league games caught the eye of Real Madrid but despite Villarreal accepting an offer, he rejected the chance to move to the Bernabeu. Despite missing a third of the 2009-10 campaign through injury, Cazorla’s performances continued to impress – his second stint at the club produced 23 goals and 27 assists from 127 appearances before big-spending Malaga came calling prior to the start of last season.
Purchased for an estimated €21m, Cazorla’s acquisition was key to the club’s fourth place finish in 2011/12. Playing every league game for his new side, he went on to return six assists in addition to nine goals – his most prolific season to date, in terms of overall goal contribution. The Arsenal new boy has also turned out for Spain on 41 occasions and has found the net four times.
As mentioned by Wenger, Cazorla is able to play on either flank or through the middle in “the hole”, affording the Gunners’ boss plenty of versatility in the attacking midfield three. Bearing in mind he’s adaptable enough to also feature in the double-pivot, the 27-year old certainly looks a strong bet for plenty game time in the season ahead in Arsenal’s new-look starting XI.
Quite where he will fit in remains to be seen if Wenger maintains the 4-2-3-1 shape utilised last term. To an extent, much could depend on the future of Robin Van Persie – if the Dutchman departs, Giroud would be favourite to fill in as the lone forward and, with Podolski perhaps slotting in on the left and Theo Walcott in the driving seat for a starting berth on the opposite flank, Cazorla could see plenty game time in the middle of an attacking trio lining up behind the lone frontman, pulling the strings as the Gunners’ key creator. Considering only four players provided more goalscoring opportunities in La Liga last term, it’s clear just what type of Wenger has on his hands here, with Cazorla’s set-pieces duties, and free-kicks in particular, a strong asset of his play; another factor to consider should Van Persie up and leave, with the Spaniard the likeliest to benefit.
Quite how quickly the new arrivals will gel is another matter to consider. The Arsenal boss has already admitted his plans to ease both Podolski and Giroud into the action with the pair yet to feature in pre-season; it’s yet unclear as to how he views Cazorla but long-term, the playmaker has the undeniable potential to become a real Fantasy favourite and offer us a strong midfield option over the season ahead.
In terms of price, either 8.5 or 9.0 looks likely in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game – the same valuation as Walcott and one that would still look enticing, with the likes of Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Rosicky all dropping in the pecking order as a result of Cazorla’s introduction to the Gunners’ first-team. For the Sky Sports game, a cost of 7.5 looks likely – the same as Walcott and in line with the Premier League new boys Eden Hazard (7.7) and Shinji Kagawa (7.6).
Arsenal’s relatively tricky start to the season could well see many Fantasy managers overlooking Cazorla to begin with, however. Bearing in mind the strong opening schedules of both Spurs and United, in addition to Chelsea’s double Gameweek 1, there are plenty of similarly-priced midfield options currently offering better potential to kick off the campaign.
With Wenger’s men facing Liverpool, City and Chelsea in the first six Gameweeks in addition to a trip to Stoke, they arguably have just two enticing fixtures from the off; home clashes against Sunderland and Southampton. This, in addition to the possibility of Van Persie staying, affords Cazorla the chance to immediately prove himself as a differential – if Arsenal are to avoid the poor opening set of performances from last time round, the former Malaga man has the intelligence and talent to be hugely instrumental.
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- 10 months, 15 days ago
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Team of the Season 2012/13
- van Persie
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