Arsenal fans have been left to fret over the future of key midfield star Santi Cazorla, after the Spaniard admitted that he may be open to moving to Atletico Madrid after the World Cup.
Though not specifically stating that he was looking to leave the Emirates Stadium this summer, Cazorla did very little to play down the rumours of a departure whilst talking to Spanish newspaper AS, and even spoke highly of his positive relationship with a number of Atletico players. Since arriving from Malaga in 2012 the 29-year-old has established himself as a pivotal player in Arsene Wenger’s set up, and the comments made will have undoubtedly left the Frenchman with more concerns than assurances.
“When the World Cup is over, I’ll start thinking about my situation,” Cazorla said.
“I don’t want to be thinking about it right now and I’ve told my agents not to tell me anything is an offer comes in. But I know a few of the Atlético players – Godín, Juanfran and I know the side well from when I was playing the Spanish league but until the tournament is over, I won’t know if the rumours are true or not.”
Whilst not exactly confirming that he is packing his bags, Cazorla’s comments don’t make for pleasant reading if you’re a fan of the Gunners. In the wake of having seen Wenger publicly snub the chance to re-sign Francesc Fabregas, supporters of the north London club will be hoping that the veteran manager has some sort of contingency plan with which to ensure that the side are firing on all cylinders next term. One thing they won’t want to see is speculation linking their best players with the exit door.
What’s even more alarming is that Atletico will probably have the funds to complete the proposed transfer, having all but relinquished the services of Diego Costa and Filipe Luis to Chelsea for lucrative fees. Diego Simeone’s side no longer lack the ambition which could have put off Premier League stars in the past, having made it to the Champions League final last term, and their success in breaking up the long-running dominance held by Real Madrid and Barcelona makes them an attractive place to be.
Then there’s Cazorla’s age to factor in. Quickly approaching 30 the Spain international will know that his days at the top of the game could be numbered, and Arsenal’s stance on not offering anything more than a one-year deal to players no longer in their 20s means that his long-term future could be more assured at the Vicente Calderon. Reports yesterday even claimed that he would be prepared to take a pay-cut in order to force through a transfer to the La Liga giants, though these carry no official weight in terms of comments made by him or either club.
THE EFFECT OF A DEPARTURE
There’s no doubting that Cazorla’s exit from Arsenal would leave a large hole to be filled. Though Wenger has central midfielders in abundance, the likes of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil are all different types of players to the diminutive Spaniard, and his ability to control the tempo of games with his short passing style will be sorely missed. What’s more Wenger would be letting go of yet another senior member of the squad and, with Thomas Vermaelen now edging ever closer to the exit door, top level experience is a quality he will crave.