Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has made it clear to Atletico Madrid that he's ready to return to La Liga this summer, with negotiations already under way to make that deal happen when the current campaign concludes.
That heartbreaking news for Gunners fans comes from Madrid-based radio station Cadena Cope, with Spanish journalist Antonio Ruiz reporting late last night that Atletico are in talks with Arsenal to sign a player with less than 18 months to run on his current contract.
Cazorla would be a massive loss to Arsenal despite turning 30 last year, with the playmaker in magnificent form over the last three months. The diminutive pass master has stepped up with the Gunners ravaged by injuries this season, but that kind of consistency has also alerted Atletico that there's a deal to be done for a player currently at the peak of his powers.
Arsenal can't afford to lose him
Any doubts over Cazorla's importance to Arsene Wenger can be offset by a quick look at his statistics this season, with the creative force scoring six times and setting up a further seven goals in 24 Premier League appearances.
Cazorla was even handed the captain's armband in the absence of Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta for yesterday's 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, a very different kind of leader capable of dictating matches from a deeper midfield role.
Any truth to Atletico rumours
In truth Arsenal only have themselves to blame for rumours of serious from Atletico surfacing over the last 24 hours, because they've once again failed to tie an important player down to a long contract.
Cazorla has watched the likes of Francis Coquelin sign new deals in recent times but not been offered fresh terms himself, despite being outstanding over a prolonged period of time.
You have to feel at some stage the Spaniard will have to consider a return to his home country and Atletico could be a perfect fit, offering strong opportunities for silverware without the quite incredible competition for places that would come at Barcelona, another club linked with his signature.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone has got the best out of hard-working, technically-gifted players in Cazorla's mould in a remarkable rise to the top of Spanish football in recent times, unless Arsenal act quickly this summer another top player looks set to walk away despite having a legion of admirers at the Emirates Stadium.
What do you think Arsenal fans, should Cazorla be offered a new contract or is the Spanish magician's heart already set on a return to La Liga? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!
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