It’s official. Santiago Cazorla González, best known to his mates as Santi Cazorla, is now an Arsenal player. The ambidextrous 27-year-old midfielder has been capped 45 times for his country, and that’s no mean feat when your national side, Spain, is the reigning European and world champion.
Cazorla made his club debut at the age of 18 for Villareal, with whom he had two spells, from 2003 to 2006 and 2007 to 2011. Sandwiched in between was a short stint at Recreativo, and last season was spent at then high-spending Malaga. At Villareal, Cazorla made 181 appearances, and found his name on the score sheet 25 times. At Recreativo, the ratio was five in 34, and last season he was the second highest scorer on the team with nine goals in 38 appearances. He has scored six times for Spain, although for the national side he is generally on the substitutes’ bench.
While Arsenal already have some speedy wingers in Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla adds an extra dimension in that he can play on either wing, or in the middle. This means that the permutations open to Arsene Weneger increase greatly, and with rumours that the signings, which may not be at an end, may signal a u-turn by Robin van Persie, this could leave the Gunners with even more attacking options.
There are plenty of clips of Cazorla’s silky skills online, which show highlights of his performances at club and national level, one of which can be viewed below.
What is clear is not just his finishing ability, which is more than adequate, but also his speed and vision. While he’s not going to win many headers against Peter Crouch as he’s just 5’6″, his passing skills and ability to find attackers in good positions should enable him to link well with the new forwards, once they get to know each other in the coming weeks. It’s clear that he’s been a marked man in Spain, and that looks likely to continue in the Premier League. How Cazorla copes with the hectic schedule, lack of winter break, and chilly winter games remains to be seen, but his style of play seem to be a perfect fit at Arsenal.
How the Gunners will line up on opening day, and their formation, remains to be seen, but fans are surely looking to the new season with renewed optimism, and with suggestions that Wenger’s spending isn’t over just yet, that first XI in under two weeks at home to Sunderland may not be fixed just yet.