Where Will Santi Cazorla Play?
The red carpet is being rolled out outside the Emirates as we speak. Allegedly, Santi Cazorla is due at Arsenal for a medical today before sealing a £17m transfer from cash-strapped Malaga.
Usually I prefer to be cautious with transfer talk but the sheer number of media outlets carrying the story engenders confidence. Assuming the deal does go through, it raises the question of where the Spaniard will play. Because as a club record signing, play he will and judging by his performances over the last couple of seasons, he’s certainly good enough to warrant a first team place at Arsenal.
The Spaniard can play on either flank as well as through the middle. No doubt Arsene’s interest in Cazorla was heightened by this versatility. With injuries dogging Arsenal’s midfield like the medieval plague, his arrival would effectively add an extra man in three key positions. It’s hard to predict exactly what Wenger has in mind for him because his position is tied to other squad dynamics.
Assuming Arshavin and Bendtner are not at the club next season and Ryo Miyaichi will be loaned out once more, our attacking options in wide areas include Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. With Van Persie’s departure Podolski could be used as the central striker, competing with Giroud for a starting place. The Ox is still raw so he’s likely continue to as a super-sub plus the youngster has played pre-season in a central position, a sign that Arsene sees him developing into that role in the future. Even if Walcott’s contract were to be extended, Arsenal still need reinforcements on the flanks and Cazorla might challenge Gervinho and Walcott for a starting place.
In the centre of midfield, the manager sees Abou Diaby as first choice when fit. If, and it’s a big IF I know, Diaby gets a run of games together Cazorla chances would be limited in the central attacking role with Rosicky, Ramsey and possibly Oxlade Chamberlain providing back up. This is before considering Jack Wilshere’s return and assuming that when he does, he would challenge either Song or Arteta for a starting place for one of the two deeper midfield positions.
By my reckoning, Santi Cazorla is being targeted to play wide. The fact he can play through the middle is an added advantage and provides the manager with flexibility but primarily the Spaniard will increase competition on the flanks.
In which case, the Nuri Sahin rumours are also believable. Yossi Benayoun’s loan spell last season proved very successful and more than Cazorla providing options in central midfield, I think it will be Sahin who would add depth in the CAM role and competition for Rosicky, Ramsey and the Ox. And with the player coming on loan, Arsene can use him judiciously if the regular starters are injured, fatigued or suffering a dip in form.
Regardless of Sahin’s arrival, the Cazorla signing would give Arsenal a more formidable squad. If the Real Madrid were to brought in as well, it would cover most eventualities over the course of the season in the midfield.
Of course, all this is purely conjecture at this point but Arsene Wenger has been criticized in the past for not possessing a good enough squad to fight for honours. Everything that’s happened in the summer so far suggests lessons have been learnt and that augurs well for our immediate future.
If one or both of these deals come through, that leaves only the goalkeeping position to be strengthened. Wojciech Szczesny is deservedly number one and has the makings of a great keeper, but Arsenal need genuine competition for the Pole. Neither Fabianski nor Mannone are good enough to challenge him and one injury could make us vulnerable, what with the defending already requiring plenty of work as it is.