10 Potential Santi Cazorla Replacements

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla goes down injured against Norwich City.

After yesterdays news that Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career was almost certainly over, I wrote a few words about a Granit Xhaka / Aaron Ramsey axis being an ideal central midfield moving forward. out of that article, a load of names were thrown at me as potential Santi Cazorla replacements. Here are the top 10…


A long term favourite, the Real Madrid midfielder has found himself on the edges of the Real Madrid squad this season. There is no questioning his talent, but it is whether he is sorted for the deeper playmaking role that Cazorla made his own.

Everytime I have seen him perform, he has either been in the number 10 role, or on the wing. He is lightweight and is not great defensively. I would love him at Arsenal, but as a winger or more attacking player, not as a replacement for Santi Cazorla.

Marco Verratti

The Italian midfielder is another who has been on the Arsenal radar for a long, long time.

Like Cazorla, he is a midget, but has brilliant positional awareness and passes for fun. Verratti and Thiago Motta ran the game between Arsenal and PSG at the Emirates the other week.

He would certainly replace Cazorla’s creative ability in the middle of the park, but would he be up for the physical midfield battle of the Premier League?

Saul Niguez

I am a massive fan of Saul Niguez. The Atletico Madrid player is a terrific player. He is an al action central midfielder, reminding me a lot of Steven Gerrard. He can defend, he can attack. He can pass, he can score.

Would Atletico Madrid let him go? Certainly not easily, but they are traditionally a club who has to sell before they buy. With Diego Simeone set to leave Madrid this summer, there might be an exodus to follow.

Vincent Koziello

A new name to many, the 21 year old Nice midfielder has broken through to become a first team regular over the last 18 months.

Comparisons to Santi Cazorla mainly revolve around the fact that he is just 5’ 6” and plays in the middle of the park. With a 90%+ pass completion ratio, he has also consistently averaged over 3 tackles a game since his major break through last season.

He might be a bit small for the Premier League, but he certainly has tonnes of ability and punches above his weight.

Danny Drinkwater

With Leicester City’s crown now having slipped, from Premier League champions to relegation battle in 6 months, it is only a matter of time until the rats leave the sinking ship.

A lot of talk is about replacing Santi Cazorla’s playmaking ability. But in the Arsenal squad we already have the likes of Granit Xhaka, and potentially a returning Jack Wilshere, who can replace this.

Could a move for an out and out defensive talent (who is an adequate passer) free up someone like Granit Xhaka to become the midfield playmaker? Or is Danny Drinkwater just a French Francis Coquelin?

Marcos Llorente

The Real Madrid youngster is currently on loan at Alaves, where he has put in a string of impressive performances.

Linked fairly heavily with Arsenal recently, a move for Llorente would not happen until the summer. He finds his path to the Real Madrid 1st XI blocked by the impressive Casemiro, so is likely to have to look elsewhere next season for 1st team football.

He is a boyhood Real Madrid fan, so would take a lot of convincing to be prised away. Madrid’s recent policy of inserting buy back clauses into deals when selling their youngsters will mean plenty of negotiating for the Arsenal transfer team.

Cesc Fabregas

Perhaps the one name I saw spoken about mostly on social media last night. Would Arsenal (or Arsene) really move for the former captain?

Having turned down the chance in 2014 due to already having Mesut Ozil in the squad, Cesc would have to transform himself from the lazy number 10 he now is, to the all action central midfielder that he used to be.

When he first broke through at Arsenal, he did it all. Covered ground, tackled, passed, scored, assisted. But a mixture of his own ego, and fitness problems, saw him end up further up the pitch, and rarely putting in a shift.

Add in his ongoing niggling injuries, and the fact that Chelsea would unlikely sell to a title rival, why is he even being mentioned?

Adrien Rabiot

Yet another long term favourite of fans. Rabiot seems to have been around forever – he is still just 21.

Rabiot has more physicality than many of the others on the list so would be a bit more a defensive option. He has a decent left foot on him. But would he not just be another Granit Xhaka?

It is a worry that he has still yet to break through at PSG, but him being their might encourage them to allow Marco Verratti to leave.

A move for Rabiot would more be about filling squad places rather than as a Santi Cazorla replacement.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

A replacement within. Could Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finally get his break with Cazorla being out?

His best performances for Arsenal have been in the middle of the park. He certainly has the attacking ability of Cazorla, able to find space with a drop of the shoulder, and his drive forward and ability on the ball would give another tactical option in the middle of the park.

Oxlade-Chamberlain can defend, although he lacks the defensive awareness in the middle of the park.

There would also be fitness concerns. Does he have the basic level of fitness to play 90 minutes, covering ground, in the middle of the park.

Hakan Calhanoglu

I know little about the Turkish international, the German league does not interest me that much. But he is a name who has been floated around for 6 months.

An attacking midfielder, does he have the defensive work rate required?


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