EPL: 10 Things You Need to Know About Arsenal's Santi Cazorla
Arsenal football club is delighted to announce the signing of Santiago Cazorla Gonzalez on a long-term contract. After so much anticipation, the rumors were actually true this time, unlike the 99.9 percent tales of some French bloke that plies his trade in Rennes.
This has been one hell of a summer for everyone concerned with Arsenal. It began very well with the acquisition of an experienced German international that has already notched up a century of appearances for his nation. He and many other Arsenal ambassadors were keenly watched in the European Championships that was retained by that alien nation, Spain.
This was followed closely by another signing from Arsene Wenger’s best trade zone, Ligue 1, and Arsenal did well to pluck off its highest goal scorer in the previous campaign.
Up stepped Robin van Persie with his bombshell that truly brought out every Gooner’s opinion about him. I even had a Gooner’s Perspective episode for van Persie.
With endless speculation linking Santi Cazorla to the club, Wenger, Gazidis and the Arsenal hierarchy has heeded to calls for quality signings from van Persie—the fans to bring the diminutive winger in the bag, literally speaking.
Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Arsenal’s new kid on the block.
David Ramos/Getty Images
Cazorla is one of the few gifted midfielders in the world that can fit into any slot in the advanced midfield positions. He’s a right winger by default, but he’s equally adept on the left wing as well as the hole behind the centre forward.
This has been an attribute that has been exploited well by his previous managers.
His Blood is Yellow
David Ramos/Getty Images
Cazorla began his football education in Real Oviedo, but he failed to make any appearance for the outfit before he was snapped up by Villarreal CF shortly before his 18th birthday.
Cazorla was drafted into the Villarreal B team in the 2003/04 campaign where he made 40 appearances and had four goals to show for it. He made his senior debut for the Yellow Submarines the following season, endearing himself into the hearts of El Madrigal fans.
In somewhat controversial circumstances, he was shipped out to Recreativo de Huelva in 2006 for £400,000, but the cunning folks in the Villarreal ranks attached a meager buy-back clause of £825,000. They activated the clause to re-sign Cazorla when he had “proved himself” at Recreativo, and Cazorla had gone on to make 127 appearances in four seasons for the Yellow Submarine before his sale to Malaga last season.
Like his move from Malaga to Arsenal, he was “forced out” of Villarreal to compensate from serious debts incurred, but his exit coincided with a bad spell for his former employers, as they suffered the ignominy of relegation.
For as long as he can remember, Cazorla has been with Villarreal, and it’s fair to say that his blood is yellow.
He Snubbed a Move to Real Madrid
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Cazorla’s exploits for Villarreal in the 2007-2008 campaign (36 games, five goals and six assists) put him on the radar of many predators of European football, and he was strongly linked with a move to Spanish giants, Real Madrid. Before the 2008 summer transfer window closed, Cazorla went on air to publicly dismiss any rumors linking him to Madrid,
“There are many things in football besides Real Madrid. It’s clear that it’s possible to say “no” to them; there’s no doubt that they are a great team, but I also feel very satisfied and valued at my club. I hope that I can continue growing at Villarreal because I’m young, and I’m only starting off with the National team.”
Cazorla went on to score eight goals in 30 appearances in the 2008-2009 season.
He’s a Two-Time European Champion
Cazorla has two European Championships medals in his cabinet by virtue of the fact that he’s also an alien that came to invade the Earth with his fellow aliens. After colonizing the Iberian region, these aliens settled down and called themselves Spain.
After conquering Europe for the first time in ages in 2008, Cazorla missed out on the Spanish team that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup but he was part of Vicente del Bosque’s army that used the inaugural False 9 formation to win the Euros.
At this moment, there’s no stopping La Furia Rojas.
He's a Superb Dead Ball Specialist
As an Arsenal fan, try to go down memory lane to reminisce on the amount of dead balls that have killed birds in the sky with proposed free kicks. Robin van Persie stands out as Arsenal’s No. 1 dead ball taker (followed by Mikel Arteta), but he has a knack for slamming his free kicks against the woodwork, the wall or, of course, birds in the sky.
However, the free kicks he scores are masterpieces in their own art gallery, but Cazorla will bring his set piece-taking ability that will add great value to the squad.
Hopefully, the free kick to bird ratio will be drastically reduced now that Santa, er, Santi is coming to town.
He’s a Live-Wire with the Ball at His Feet
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Cazorla is a very unpredictable player to come up against. He has very sultry dribbling skills, and he compliments that attribute with a deft first touch, great technique and ambidexterity. He also has a flamboyant style of play, making him a joy to watch when he’s on full throttle.
He Has a Good Passing Range
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Despite having a frame no different from Frodo Baggins, Cazorla has an eagle-eyed vision, and he’s a selfless player that creates chances for his teammates. In a club like Arsenal where creativity is the order of the day, Cazorla will feel right at home.
His quick movement off the ball makes him a great candidate for one-twos, and he’ll thrive well in Arsenal’s intricate passing game.
He Shoots from Distance
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
In a club like Arsenal where the players throw more passes than the number of times the fans check news columns for latest rumors, Cazorla will be a wild card because he knows how to fire surface-to-goal missiles with those little feet of his.
Arsenal fans can only hope that he’s not fully initiated into the passing philosophy that has made the team predictable at times. In his Borussia Dortmund days, Tomas Rosicky shot the ball four times from five passes received. After his induction into the Arsenal way, TR7 passed the ball five more times for every five passes he received.
I’m sure you get the drift.
He Fits into Arsenal’s Style of Play
Hamish Blair/Getty Images
Cazorla is a technically adept player that is a live-wire with the ball at his feet. He’s also a good team player that links up well with his teammates, and he’ll fit perfectly into Arsenal's fluid, dynamic and intricate style of Le Professeur’s football that has earned plaudits in world football, winning him titles along the line (going through a barren spell at the moment).
As a good passer of the ball, he’ll excel in Arsenal because the Gunners treat the ball as a good ol’ friend.
He Adds Depth to the Squad
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Last season, I witnessed Arsenal torn into shreds at Old Trafford. The playing squad was atrocious, and the bench was nothing to write home about. Like Midas, everything Wayne Rooney touched turned into gold, um, goals, and Howard Webbs’s final whistle couldn’t come soon enough.
Looking at the present squad for the forthcoming season has given the fans that sense of pride that has been missing in a while. Wojciech Szczesny has calmed the goalkeeping storms of the past, and Lukasz Fabianski is an able deputy.
The defense needs some “patching up,” but the prospect of Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny at the heart of Arsenal’s defense can give me rest of mind. There are also the endless concerns about the injury-prone fullbacks, but if Arsenal could survive their absence last season, the club can do this same this year.
Cazorla’s introduction to the squad has blessed Arsenal’s midfield with a vast array of talent which will certainly give Arsene Wenger some selection headaches this season. The competition for first team places will hopefully bring out the best in the team, and I have a hunch that this will be a campaign that we would savor.
Welcome to Arsenal, Santiago Cazorla Gonzalez.