Tag Archives: Santi Cazorla

Goodbye Santi, Hello Stephan

We were all expecting something to happen at Arsenal today. The noise was positive around Sokratis being on the verge of being named Unai Emery’s first signing at Arsenal.

In a Sol Campbell-esque moment – when we were all expecting Richard Wright to be announced and out got Sol Campbell from the car – former Juventus right back Stephan Lichtsteiner has gazumped Sokratis to become a quiz question answer.

But firstly the sad news. Santi Cazorla has officially left the club.

The former Gunners midfielder is set to spend pre-season with his former club Villarreal, with a view to earning a permanent contract.

The diminutive Spaniard always played with a smile on his face. A smile which has not been seen on a football pitch since November 2015.

I still maintain that had he not picked up that injury against Norwich, Arsenal would have had that little bit extra to beat Leicester City to the title.

At the time of his injury, Cazorla was an over present in the Arsenal team, with analysis showing him to be the league’s busiest and most accurate passer.

Arsenal reportedly offered him a coaching role at Arsenal, but he clearly feels that he has another year or two left.

With Villarreal in the Europa League, there is a chance we might see him again.

When someone dies, someone is born. And the sadness of Cazorla leaving is balanced out with Lichtsteiner joining Arsenal from Juventus.

The Swiss international defender signs as a free agent from the Serie A club, where he won the title in each of his seven seasons.

A hugely-experienced right-sided defender, Stephan made over 250 appearances for Juventus and is the fourth-most capped player in Switzerland history with 99 appearances for his country. He has also been the Swiss captain since 2016.

Head coach Unai Emery said: “Stephan brings huge experience and leadership to our squad. He’s a player with great quality with a very positive and determined attitude. Stephan will improve us on and off the pitch.”

Stephan, 34, started his senior career in 2001 with Swiss club Grasshopper Zurich, where he won the league title in 2003. He played in France with Lille for three years before moving to Lazio in Italy in 2008, where he won the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana before moving to Juventus in 2011.

He will wear the number 12 shit, and provide cover and competition for Hector Bellerin.


What Cazorla’s departure means for Ramsey and Wilshere

Morning all. Let me start by addressing yesterday’s blog where I attempted to explain the truth about transfer budgets, and how it actually works.

The short version was “Arsenal gave £50m to spend in the summer pre-sales, but this is not the transfer budget. This £50m is to be spent on increased wages and amortised transfer fees”. Do read the full version, click here.

I write a lot of rubbish, I write some stuff that I think is good. Often the stuff I think is good and well thought out gets just a few 100 hits. Whilst often the rubbish can get thousands.

Yesterday’s blog was not planned. I was in my garden, on a break from mowing my lawn, rum and lemonade in hand (yes, it was only 9.30am) and explaining for the umpteenth time about how transfer fees are spread across the length of the entire project. I decided instead of continually having to explain it, I’d write a blog.

I was not expecting the blog to take off how it did. Reading the response bought a smile to my face. It felt like a blog that enlightened those who read it. Explained to them how things worked. Added to their knowledge. So a big thanks to everyone that read it and shared it. To have the blog “liked” by Big Dave Ornstein was certainly a highlight.

Leading on from yesterday’s blog, one thing I spoke about was about how an increase in wages comes out of that pot of gold we have available to increase over all costs of the club. And that if you want to control wages, you often have to let players leave to free up further cash for new players.

And that is what has happened today as Santi Cazorla agreed to join Villarreal on a feee transfer.

It is sad to let the happy little Spaniard leave, but he is 34 in December and has had two years injury. He heart might be broken, but the head says we were right not being too aggressive offering him a new contract.

Cazorla was in £90,000 a week. That is £4.6m a year. A lot of money invested in a player who has not played.

You the have another outgoing player who has barely appeared this season. Per Mertesacker. He was on £70,000 a week. Another £3.6m a year.

Combined, the pair earned £8.2m between them last year. They played 365 minutes of Premier League football combined.

The reality is, unlike if Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey left, neither Cazorla or Mertesacker has to be replaced to maintain the status quo. That means the £8.2m in wages, or £160k a week, can be invested back in the squad wherever we feel fit.

That is the wages paid for a world class player without changing our current transfer outgoings.

Then we come to Jack Wilshere. It seems being left out of the World Cup has made him re-think his future at Arsenal. Perhaps he has decided that he wants to be assured of first team football – a guarantee he will never get at a top club. The question for Wilshere is “how far is he will to drop for first team football?”. Is he really going to be happy at Everton, Wolves or Leicester?

If he does leave, that free’s up another £80,000 a week. Now let’s be silly.

Arsenal lose both Wilshere and Cazorla for nothing. For the £170,000 a week (£8.8m a year) we save in wages for both players, we go out and buy the world class central midfielder we need. Is that not a positive?

I love Wilshere, but he is not or every will be world class. If he does leave, it gives us a lot of flexibility to use his salary and Cazorla’s money on that top replacement, and still have plenty in the lot to buy a top defensive midfielder.

And finally Aaron Ramsey.

I honestly think he is playing a game with the club.

With Cazorla gone, it leaves us with 4 senior central midfielders – Ramsey, Wilshere, Elneny, Xhaka.

If Wilshere also leaves, Ramsey will know he can pretty much name his price. The club could not afford to lose Cazorla, Wilshere & Ramsey, leaving us with just Elneny and Xhaka. We would need to go out and buy another 3 central midfielders if that happened. Ramsey is waiting to see how the cards fall before deciding to go all in.

I expect he will stay, and be made captain.

So if Wilshere and Cazorla leave, we replace them with a single top midfielder, and use our current budgeted funds to buy a defensive midfielder, our strength I. The middle of the park would have grown. If we can get someone like Max Meyer on a free, even better:

Xhaka DM Ramsey

Elneny AMN Meyer

Enjoy your Sunday.


A Tale of 2 Spaniards

Santi Cazorla

I have seen horrendous injuries before. Aaron Ramsey, Eduardo, and more, but the news last week about Santi Cazorla saddens me more.

Even though it was an innocuous challenge at the time, one which did not cause too much stress, the photos that came out last week were deeply saddening.

I think the primary reason why the news about his 8 operations, gangrene, and potential of never walking again, let alone play football was so distressing was because of the type of person Cazorla is.

He is the happiest man in the world. Always playing with a smile on his face. A cheeky little bugger who clearly enjoyed life. And then his career was nearly cut down, his life nearly changed forever.

And then we come to the amazing part.

At no point over the last year have we seen Cazorla not smile.

Despite it clearly being a hard time in his life, every picture of him recovering, or on social media, he and the instantly recognisable smile on his face.

He never seemed to let things get him down. Other players would have been complaining, informing others every second of their distress. Cazorla didn’t. He just got on with things. And did it with a smile.

Even when things got nasty with Arsenal fans calling for his contract to be terminated, he battled on, smiling.

Even last week, when the pictures came out, I saw he fan say “why is Cazorla still contracted at Arsenal. Wenger has turned on him to another Diaby. We should just get rid”.

This type of fan probably also moans that the club has lost its position as the classiest club in Britain.

Sometimes our fans really are classless. Having a go at a man who could have died. Complaining that the club are treating him and helping him walk again.

These fans who moan need to take a look at Cazorla. He had a life threatening injury and is still smiling. What has gone so badly wrong in their life that makes them so angry all the time.

I hope Cazorla does return in the new year. I hope he does play again. And I hope Arsenal continue to give him the treatment he needs to get back on his feet – even if his contract expires.

Santi, I hope that in the face of adversity, I can smile my through it just like you.

David Silva

Great player. Always been a favourite of mine. Proper little genius.

A story came out this week that Arsenal had the opportunity to sign him way back in 2005. We didn’t. He ended up at Manchester City.

People have jumped on this as “another that got away”, yet all it does is prove how easy football is in hindsight.

In 2005, David Silva was just 19. Manchester City did not sign him until 2010. 5 years later when he was 23. It is not like we turned him down and he went straight to City.

At that point in 2005, he had just spent a year on loan at Eibar in the Spanish 2nd division. Arsenal did. It feel he was ready physically for the Premier League.

Valencia also clearly did not feel he was ready for their team either. In 2005/06 they loaned him out to Celta Vigo and it was not until 2006/07 that he started to play for the side whose youth ranks he came up in.

As I say, football is easy in hindsight. For every David Silva that makes it, there are 100s of youngsters who do not make it.

Role the clock back to 2005, Arsenal had Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg in the squad. A 19 year old David Silva would not get a look in.

“But we could have signed him to develop him” you cry. Well at the time we were developing two their Spanish youngsters.

The first was Jose Antonio Reyes, who at the time was considered by everyone as the future of Spanish football. He was just 21 and was already in double figures in caps for Spain. Back to that word hindsight, who would have thought Reyes career would fall off a cliff? He got 21 caps for Spain, the last in 2006 – the year Silva made his Spain debut.

We then come on to the second Spanish talent.

An 18 year old kid called Frances Fabregas Soler. A wonderkid, to use Football Managers terminology.

Cesc is 16 months younger than David Silva, and in the 2004/05 season, had just broken into the Arsenal first team. He was playing Premier League football for the champions whilst the older David Silva was in the 2nd division in Spain.

Cesc would very quickly establish himself to be one of the best midfielders in world football. David Silva was still trying to establish himself in the Valencia first team.

Top clubs scout every top young player. The David Silva story has only come to light due to Arsenal playing Manchester City at the weekend.

In 2005, Arsenal had better players in and around the first team who were better than David Silva at the same age. And one who was a lot better than him despite being 16 months younger.

You would have to be an idiot to try and claim that Arsenal should have discarded Cesc to bring in David Silva.