Welcome to Arsenal, Santi Cazorla
People say you can’t have an opinion on a player until you watch a certain amount of full games. Nonsense. I’ve heard more than enough about ARSENAL’S OFFICIAL NEW SIGNING SANTI CAZORLA!!! to get me worked up into a massive excited frenzy now that SANTI CAZORLA’S OFFICIALLY SIGNED FOR ARSENAL!!! so I’m going to go ahead and do that.
For example, Sid Lowe, possibly the most respected British journalist who covers Spanish football, asked if he could describe Santi Cazorla in simply one word, and the word he used was “brilliant” – italics for a reason folks, he was sure to emphasise that word. Everyone who knows anything about La Liga has agreed that Cazorla is the best player outside of the top two – Barcelona and Real Madrid – and for me, that’s absolutely good enough. They say there’s wisdom in crowds, so I’m sure it wouldn’t be too far a stretch to say that there’s wisdom in wise crowds.
I’ve also managed to glean a lot about what type of player our new man is – partly from the simple fact that he’s a Spanish international midfielder, which automatically means a certain level of technical ability and a liking for a pass. He seems creative, versatile and able to dictate a game when played centrally; something we’ve desperately needed since Cesc Fabregas left.
I spoke about the need for a player to define us, someone who epitomises our side, a few months ago, and I feel that Cazorla will do that. He suits our style down to the ground with his technical ability, excellent range of passing and superb ball control, and I think a year after losing our definition, when we sold Nasri and Fabregas, we’ve got it back.
We were looking to replace the creative influence of those two with Cazorla when they left, and it speaks volumes that Arsene has gone back in for the Spaniard a year after missing out. In truth, we’re incredibly lucky that Malaga had debt issues and we were able to sort out a deal – although you could say if they’d never been rich in the first place we’d have gotten him from Villarreal a year earlier. But all of that’s irrelevant as far as I’m concerned.
What is relevant is that we have an incredibly exciting player, a genuine marquee signing. I won’t follow the lead of many other Arsenal fans and pretend Andrey Arshavin wasn’t an exciting marquee signing as well, as he certainly was, but this signing may have just eclipsed that in terms of quality. And for a reported £12 million plus add-ons, by all accounts we’ve got ourselves a sensational deal.
As well as credit going to Arsene Wenger for not only moving to sort this out but helping to attract the player, credit should certainly go to our negotiators – after all, they’ve taken stick in the past for supposedly not getting things right, so they should take their share of the credit for what appears to be a fantastic deal.
The only vague worries you would have about Cazorla are his lack of pace, lack of height and overall adaptation to English football, although you imagine all three are inter-linked. Cesc wasn’t the quickest though, and Juan Mata is another diminutive Spanish playmaker who came straight from La Liga to the Premier League and adapted instantly, so I don’t think we should be too cautious in what to expect. Still, there will be the standard adapting period, but after that I think it’s safe to say we’ll have a match-winner on our hands.
His statistics might not seem too impressive – 9 goals and 5 assists last season for Malaga – but statistics can only get you so far. They might make up a bigger picture for someone who hasn’t seen him, but when all who have are gushing about the signing, it’s best to ignore the stats and just go mental. What’s important, rather than his direct contribution, is his overall influence on the game, which would include possession, passing stats, and pre-assists if you want to get technical with your stats.
The most telling is how much Malaga improved with Santi in their side, and how far Villarreal fell without him. Even without watching him, and without hearing anything about him, that tells you a great deal about how important he was to both of those sides. It also shows that he can adapt when he joins a new team, although it will be slightly different coming to a different country and different league.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough and I should really get out from under my Arsenal duvet, put on my Arsenal kit, shirt shorts and socks that is, and put on my Arsenal DVD. I feel like a kid at Christmas. Welcome Señor Cazorla.