Cazorla Joins, Song Linked, Afobe Hits Hat-Trick
It’s official. Christmas has come early to the Emirates this year, Santi Clause the latest addition to the Gunners squad ahead of the season opener in ten days time.
Although it’s been coming for a while, there’s many a slip between cup and lip so it’s good to finally land one of last season’s best La Liga players. Cazorla brings creativity, versatility and genuine top-level experience to Arsenal’s midfield, something we’ve been derided for not possessing in recent seasons. The credentials are impressive, now let’s hope he can deliver on the promise.
The player confirmed his delight at having signed for Arsenal:
I am very happy to be here – it is a huge club. It is a great step forward in my career and I hope it will be a very good experience. I hope to win trophies here – that is what I want of course.
I remember when I signed for Malaga [in 2011] there was already interest from Arsenal. It was always a club I liked very much.
Arsene Wenger and the Board were criticized heavily last summer for not covering the loss of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Cazorla’s last remark proves they were not twiddling their thumbs after all. But not every transfer target pursued ends up signing and that’s something not peculiar to Arsenal alone, other clubs face challenges too. The fact that Arsenal showed an interest last year was perhaps a big reason for Cazorla to prefer joining the Gunners once Malaga’s nouveau riche ship started taking water.
On the footballing side, popular opinion seems to be that Cazorla will play behind the main striker. While that’s a possibility, I suspect his incisiveness and ability to combine will be better utilized on the wings. So Nuri Sahin may still be coming as well to provide reinforcement in central midfield, with Wilshere and Rosicky still out, Diaby suspect and Ramsey struggling for form.
The pursuit of Sahin is suppossedly tied to Alex Song’s departure to Barcelona. The Catalans’ ability to tap up players is becoming as impressive as the diving antics of Busquests and Alves. This time, its Andres Iniesta who has declared his man-love for the ‘very strong’ Arsenal midfielder.
Alex Song may move to Barcelona one day but I very much doubt Arsene will let him go this summer. With Van Persie set for the exit door, another key player departing would not augur well for our short-term goals. The three new signings, quality players as they are, will nevertheless take a few games to come to terms with the pace and physicality of the Premier League and strike an understanding with their teammates.
Song’s agent is no doubt earning his commission by peddling his client’s wares. The Cameroonian has two years left on his Arsenal contract and a bit of arm-twisting is fair enough. For Barcelona, it’s an opportunity to unsettle the player ahead of possible contract talks with his current club. It’s what they did with Cesc in the summer of 2010 when they first planted the idea of him moving back to the Nou Camp. But Arsenal are in a good position at the moment and I can’t see Songinho leaving just yet.
Of course, all this spending raises the inevitable question – have Arsenal hit a jackpot we don’t know about? The Far East pre-season tour brings in some much-needed cash, TV revenue is set to increase from next year and a few smaller commercial partnerships have been forged. However, it’s unlikely these are enough to cover the three new signings. Especially as we still haven’t found homes for our unwanted children – namely Arshavin, Bendtner, Park, Squillaci and perhaps Chamakh.
That’s the only danger to Song’s immediate future at Arsenal, in my opinion – the need to balance books. If Van Persie’s sale does not yield as much as expected and Arsenal are unable to shift some of squad players out of the club, Alex Song may have to be sold despite Arsene’s reluctance to do so.
Elsewhere, Benik Afobe started his Bolton loan spell in fantastic style by scoring all three goals in the Trotters’ 3-1 pre-season win over Tranmere Rovers. That hat-trick will give the young man tremendous confidence and help him settle down at his loan club that much quicker. The match-winning effort also places pressure on Owen Coyle to play him once the season begins. The more appearances he rakes up the better it will be for Arsenal, who will be hoping Afobe returns with the same form Jack Wilshere brought back with him from the Reebok a couple of years ago.