Last week, news came straight from the horses mouth that Santi Cazorla was going to require yet another operation on his already decimated Achilles.
The good news for Arsenal fans was that the majority of the football world rose up in support of Cazorla, demonstrating what a lovely man the little Spaniard is, and how lucky Arsenal are to have a player of his calibre.
The bad news is that this adds salt to the tears of Arsenal fans who know that they are without one of the best playmakers that the league has ever seen. For some Arsenal fans this sadness is compounded further, when they realize that there is no one to blame or fly a plane for.
0.47. That is Cazorla’s goals contributed to per game since his arrival for Arsenal in 2012. 129 appearances in five years, involved in 60 goals. For a player who has played so deep in recent years, that is an excellent return.
In With the Big Boys
To add weight to this excellence, the comparison of the diminutive playmaker to his peers demonstrates how big a hole he has left in the midfield.
Current playmakers who are rocking higher goals and assists per game are De Bruyne (0.67), Ozil (0.55), Eriksen (0.5) and Fabregas (0.49). No one can begrudge these players, they all have bags of talent. However, there is no doubt that these players get a lot more media coverage than Arsenals magician.
Maybe it’s his price tag being under £20 million. Maybe it’s his lengthy spells in the medical room. Maybe it’s because he plays for Arsenal. Who knows.
What is for certain is that there are a host of players who are regarded as Premier League stalwarts, game-changers and legends, who are all outclassed by Santi.
Countrymen, who ply their trade in Manchester, Silva and Juan Mata, are (rightly) lauded as some of the best CAMs in the world, and regularly feature for the Spanish national side. However, Silva has the same goals per game as Santi, and Mata is actually lower (0.44).
Arsenal fans were convinced that Samir Nasri was one of the best CAMs the club will ever have, with his sublime goal scoring ability. His goal contributions per game was 0.34 during his entire Premier League spell so the Spanish upgrade was clearly the better option.
Then there are the legends. Game-changer Gianfranco Zola reached only 0.44 per game, lower than Cazorla. Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard all contributed towards 0.32, 0.42 and 0.46 goals per game.
The fact of the matter is, Cazorla has to go down as one of the most talented players the Premier League has ever seen. When reflecting on the success of Arsenal in the last three seasons, the first thing that needs to be taken into consideration is how much we have missed the world class Spanish midfielder.