Arsenal: Why Arsene Wenger Must Keep Hold of Santi Cazorla

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2013

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  Arsenal player Santi Carzorla makes a point to referee Howard Webb whilst picking his nose during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on May 19, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Allow me to speak on behalf of Arsenal fans everywhere: Santi Cazorla is not for sale.

Spanish radio station Onda Cero reported last night that Cazorla had agreed personal terms to join Atletico Madrid. However, according to The Mirror Arsenal are already strongly refuting those claims.

This story is surely pure fantasy.

For the first time in several summers, Arsenal entered the transfer window with the realistic expectation of retaining all their major stars. This year the focus is on player recruitment rather than sales.

Arsenal should not countenance letting Cazorla go for one second.

His influence can not be underestimated. In his first season in English football, Cazorla emerged as Arsenal’s key play-maker. He started an amazing 47 games in 2012/13, participating in every single Premier League match.

According to WhoScored, Cazorla picked up 12 goals and 12 assists. He is as lethal as he is generous.

He’s versatile too. Despite beginning the season in an advanced central midfield role, Cazorla ended the campaign starting regularly on the left flank. As Arsenal’s team evolved to become more pragmatic, the reins were tightened on Cazorla. 

However, his influence never waned. 

Cazorla romped home in the poll for Arsenal’s Player of the Season, collecting 56 percent of all votes.

A player arriving in the Premier League from La Liga typically requires a season of adaptation. If Cazorla made that kind of impact during a period of adjustment, imagine what he might be capable of producing next year. 

Arsenal can not afford to let Cazorla go. What’s more, they don’t need to.

In the past, the Gunners have been required to sell one star per summer in order to balance the books. However, chief executive Ivan Gazidis recently boasted of Arsenal’s returning financial power. Speaking to the BBC, Gazidis said:

This year we are beginning to see something we have been planning for some time: the escalation in our financial firepower.

That is going to happen partly into next season, it is part way available now in the summer, but the following season as well.

It is a progression over the next two seasons and is quite significant for the club.

At a time when Arsenal are trying to present themselves as a growing football superpower, selling last season’s best performer would be hugely damaging to the club’s reputation.

Furthermore, if The Telegraph is right and Arsenal are working to persuade stellar names like Luis Suarez to join the club, it is vital they show they’re able to maintain their existing stars.

However, the greatest damage caused by the loss of Cazorla would be on the field. The Spaniard is the oil in Arsenal’s engine, linking the play beautifully with his intelligent movement and exquisite touch.

Arsenal fans waited a year to see a player arrive with the vision and class to replace Cesc Fabregas. Losing Cazorla now would be an unbearable blow.