The odds traders at bwin.com still believe Arsenal number ten/left-forward Santi Cazorla’s immediate future lies in north London, with the Gunners priced up at 7/25 to retain the Spain international’s services beyond the start of September.
However, with the former Malaga and Villarreal man thought to be pining for a switch back to his homeland, and Atletico Madrid repeatedly linked with a £20m move for the some-time La Seleccion forward, Emirates chief Arsene Wenger would be better off cashing in his Cazorla chips immediately.
You can back Atleti to be Cazorla’s club at the end of the transfer window at 2/1 with bwin.com, which is a move that certainly seems to make plenty of sense based on last season.
The Asturias native’s 2013/14 stats are in no way shabby, as only Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott got off more shots per Premier League fixture, while only Mesut Ozil outstripped Cazorla in terms of key passes per game and overall assists.
No Gunner completed more top-flight dribbles than Cazorla, whose cross and pass-completion stats also compare favourably with most of Arsenal’s 2013/14 regulars, but it can be easily argued that – despite these fine figures – he largely flattered to deceive.
For all his excellent passing and attacking verve, Cazorla directly contributed to 12 goals during the Premier League campaign, scoring four and laying on another eight.
That was only two more than left-forward Lukas Podolski, who struck eight and assisted two despite starting less than half as many top-flight fixtures.
Mesut Ozil, who kept Cazorla out of his preferred number ten role, scored more goals and contributed more assists despite featuring in five less Premier League clashes, which fully justified his continual selection ahead of the ex-Oviedo youth-team graduate.
Aaron Ramsey, who tended to operate in central midfield before his December injury, scored eight more goals than Cazorla in eight fewer appearances, while Theo Walcott’s nine strikes/assists in as many top-flight starts suggest his haul would have been significantly greater than the 29-year-old’s if he’d stayed fit.
Cazorla will turn 30 before the end of the 2014 campiagn, and with Walcott, Ozil and new signing Alexis Sanchez – who notched more league goals and assists for Barcelona last term than any Arsenal player could manage in England – expected to hog game-time in the ‘3’ positions in a 4-2-3-1 formation, £20m for an aging reserve seems like exceptional business.