Arsenal Transfer News: Why Losing Santi Cazorla Is Not an Option

Ross Dunbar@@rossdunbar93Contributor IIJuly 19, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 13:  Santi Cazorla of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at Emirates Stadium on April 13, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Hidden by the relentless debate over the future of Wayne Rooney, strong interest in Arsenal’s classy Santi Cazorla went largely unnoticed.

Within a matter of hours, Cazorla had apparently agreed to join Atletico Madrid, which were reportedly set to bid £17.5 million, via Alex Kay of the Daily Mail, but the Gunners have since gone someway to deterring the Mattress Makers, as Simon Johnson writes in the Independent.

Arsenal have warned Atletico Madrid off a move to sign Santi Cazorla - telling them the midfielder is not available at any price.

The Spanish side lost out to Arsenal when Cazorla was sold by Malaga 12 months ago, but are ready to make another attempt to sign the Spain international according to reports today.

He may have led a reasonably strong career in La Liga with Villarreal and Malaga, but unless you’re a Spanish football aficionado, his impact in the EPL has been surprisingly impressive.

Not only for his playmaking abilities, skill and creativity, but he strategically presses in midfield so well and has adapted to the intensity of the English game. He cost around £16 million and has been one of Arsenal’s best signings in recent memory.

A late bloomer at the age of 28, Cazorla has settled comfortably to the Arsenal style, playing 38 matches last season in the Premier League, scoring 12 and assisting the same figure.

Cazorla’s position varied throughout the season, but he was largely given a free-role by Arsene Wenger, cutting in from the right-hand side to his stronger left foot. The only problem for the Gunners was the lack of quality around Cazorla to improve their overall finish last season.

His form dropped off towards the second half of the campaign, scoring 11 of his 12 goals before the end of February. Cazorla indicated his ability to rise to the big-game pressure in a fantastic performance against Wigan in May, creating all of Arsenal’s four goals, securing their place in the Champions League.

But Atletico have refuted claims any deal has been agreed between the player’s representatives and the club, as Johnson adds in his Independent report.

"However, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo has denied this, telling 'We have no news of Cazorla. These are invented stories that are made up every day.' "

That may be music to the ears for Arsenal fans, especially after Atletico picked up a bargain-price David Villa who was reportedly on Wenger’s radar, too, as per Joe Mewis of Mirror Football.

Although Arsenal are almost certainly set to add to their squad for next season, keeping the best players from the current crop is equally as important.

If Arsenal are to sustain any ambitions for a top-four place or higher, extending Cazorla’s stay in North London should be top of the agenda.