Is Santi Irreplaceable?

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

It would seem that conversations surrounding the beautiful game make up the lion’s share of my contact with fellow humans. Any other topic is given short shrift as my attention interminably wanders towards football once more. It matters not if I’m involved in dialogue with colleagues, Managers, family or infuriating customer service assistants – conversations always find a way to involve football.

One such conversation was with my brother. The ebb and flow of small talk as we had both finished work was routine, comforting to a degree. Then he asked me if I’d heard anything regarding Santi Cazorla leaving in the summer to Atletico Madrid. Upon hearing this transfer tittle-tattle, my father waded into the exchange. According to his TalkSport soaked brain, he heard the same thing but with the added twist of Santi fed-up of playing second fiddle to Ozil for the Number 10 shirt and wished to return to more familiar climes.


I confessed to hearing such a vile worm of a rumour, but that I had quickly consigned it to whence it belonged – the rancid bowels of causerie. Seeing as two members of my family had heard the same thing, I chose to dig a little deeper. To look past the gaudy make-up and look at the real face of the story.

Santi Cazorla has once more begun to exhibit the form he is capable of this season. Last season he was shuttled to different positions as Arsene Wenger tinkered with formations in order to fit all the vital pieces into the picture. Santi suffered a dip in form and the lustre that had followed him everywhere was dulled a little. This season though, from the battling performance in the 2nd Leg Vs Besiktas to his twinkling feet and bursts forward in the masterful win Vs City at the Etihad – he has revelled in the responsibility awarded to him due to his position as a box-to-box midfielder. He has answered all critics and has shown he can incorporate the more robust nature of the game but still maintain the elaborate technique that cosmopolitan football requires. He has all the tools required.

Our Spaniard’s name has echoed all around our stadium as we have all been privy to our diminutive Spaniard inspire all around him. Whether he is creating chances for others or biting at the heels of opponents, he has reminded us that his true two-footed style and his burning desire for success is so important to us. So, with spurious news regarding his departure floating around like a bad smell, is it a case of success breeding negative focus or is there no smoke without fire?

The embers were stoked by Sky Sports La Liga stooge and former Barca player Gaizka Mendieta who claimed that Cazorla would ‘relish a return to Spain‘. The flames started to lick lasciviously when Spanish football ‘Insider‘ Guillem Balague then ‘confirmed‘ that Atletico were in talks with Santi’s entourage ( see the first link ). So the old adage, “my people are talking to their people” is apparently in full effect. These are the facts that are presented to us.

Firstly, Santi Cazorla has eighteen months left on his current contract. Once this season comes to a close, he will have one season left, which in turn will bring down any respective price for our wonderful midfielder. This will obviously act as blood in the water for hungry clubs looking to bring in a player who can make a difference. Atletico are indeed in need of reinforcements as they see their La Liga crown slip away slowly.

Balague and Mendieta though, are not exactly certified sources. Mendieta may have certain links to Barca and Valencia but he has no previous history with revelations or being a credible source. Balague has unabashedly circulated many different stories – especially during transfer windows – but his success rate is on a par with a night on the pull with Peter Beardsley as your wingman.

Seemingly though, the noises from these Spanish scaremongers was enough to coax reassuring soundbites from our manager. In a pre-match press conference, Arsene sought to end the rumours surrounding our mercurial midget and confirmed that he will be going nowhere.

Santi is currently 30 years old. It is undoubtable that we would struggle to find a midfielder who is two-footed footed and has the incredible range of tackling and passing that Santi has. He offers security to our defence and can counter-attack with rapier-like speed. This is not to say he is indispensable though.

Arsene and his army of scouts have no doubt earmarked a replacement if Santi has packed his suitcase for next season. If not, then the problem we have when all players are fit ( don’t laugh ) would be solved. With a little faith and an extended run in the team, the majority of our midfielders could play in most positions. Then there is The Ox. A player who has shown in flashes and spurts that he can play in central midfield and also provide the outlet to convert defence into attack and quickly. We have an embarrassment of riches.

So if Santi wants leave, then we should not hold him here. Recoup some cash and reinvest wisely. Then again, the more likely scenario is that Santi stays, seeing as the people responsible for the nucleus of this story don’t have the most reputable of track records.

I do hope I’ve cleared that up. He may leave. He may stay. I’m not particularly perturbed either way and neither should be any Gooner.

By @JokmanAFC

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