I mentioned five possible candidates—Kaka, Paulo Ganso, Wesley Sneijder, Ibrahim Afellay and Andrey Arshavin—and lo and behold, a sixth name is the flavor of this week. Santi Cazorla, formerly of Villareal, now with bankrupt moneybags Malaga. Not for long, it seems.
The rumors had humble beginnings in Spain last week, but they have truly sparked to life this morning, with the Guardian claiming that Arsenal have agreed personal terms with Cazorla:
The Spain winger Santi Cazorla has agreed terms to join Arsenal and leave Málaga this summer. Arsène Wenger is keen to sign Cazorla, whom he monitored last summer, and he is hopeful that an offer of €20m (£15.6m) can close the deal with a basic agreement in place with the player.
Cazorla's contract with Malaga has a €45 million buy-out clause, but it is believed that their worrying debt situation could force them to settle for Arsenal's €20 million offer. The player is keen to leave the club as some of his wages remain unpaid and some promises have apparently been broken. Sad, I thought they were the new Manchester City. Pity!
Apparently, the club's Qatari owner, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani, is not keen to inject additional funds into the struggling club, and selling Cazorla may be their quickest means to get some much-needed funds. Great idea, methinks.
At age 27, Cazorla is experienced, and his versatility and two-footedness mean he can play in any of the attacking midfield positions, either out wide or through the middle. With nine years of La Liga and European experience behind him, his pedigree is beyond doubt.
Is Santi Cazorla the last piece of the arsenal jigsaw?
While creating opportunities for others is no doubt his forte, Cazorla possesses a good goal-scoring record. Forty-eight goals in 308 top level games, domestically and in Europe, in addition to four goals in 41 Spanish appearances. He is also adept from set-piece situations, as this stunning free kick against Real Madrid earlier this year amply displays.
And while you're at it, you might as well feast your eyes on this one too. From a mile away, against Getafe. OK, wipe the drool off now.
On the day when Arsenal reinforced at the back, by tying Laurent Koscielny to a new long-term contract, a possible Cazorla deal would seal things up front.