Better than Hazard, better than Kagawa - Arsenal new boy Santi Cazorla is the signing of the summer so far

The former Malaga midfielder is an astute acquisition by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, a replacement for Cesc Fabregas and a man who can light up the Premier League in 2012-13
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Mikel Arteta described him as 'unbelievable'; Cesc Fabregas called him 'special'. And Arsenal fans will not be disappointed: Santi Cazorla moved to Malaga instead of the Gunners last July, but this time Arsene Wenger has got his man - and the midfielder may prove to be the best signing of all this summer.

Malaga's decision to sell Cazorla is bad news for the Costa del Sol outfit. The cornerstone of their exciting project and finest performer in 2011-12, Santi was key to the Andalusians' aspirations of one day breaking the duopoly in Spain. But just 12 months on, they have been forced to sell.

Supporters of Malaga, along with fans of La Liga, will be sad to see Cazorla depart. But Spain's loss is Arsenal's gain and a real statement of intent on behalf of the north London club. So far this summer, most of the transfer stories emanating from the Emirates have surrounded the future of want-away striker Robin van Persie. Now, though, Arsenal admirers have something to savour - the arrival of a true world-class talent.


Cazorla can play on both wings, behind the strikers or even in a deeper role pulling the strings from further back. At Malaga, he has operated in all of those positions, although his best performances came as he drifted in from the right flank in a creative capacity last term.

An impressive dead-ball specialist, willing worker and peerless passer, Cazorla also possesses a deceptive turn of pace and incredible vision. In simple terms, he has just about everything.

On top of that, he is humble and hungry. At Villarreal and Malaga, the 27-year-old was unable to compete for the game's premier prizes. At Arsenal, he has every chance of doing so.

At Euro 2012, Cazorla played merely a bit-part role in La Roja's success, appearing for a total of just 16 minutes in the wins over Ireland and France.

The midfielder was also part of the squad which claimed European success for Spain in 2008, but missed the final cut for the World Cup following an injury-plagued campaign at Villarreal in 2009-10. At 27, he is now approaching his peak and would be a guaranteed starter in most international sides. He really is that good.

Indeed, many Madrid fans have questioned why their side have been trying to lure Luka Modric to the Santiago Bernabeu this summer when Cazorla (who once turned them down to remain at Villarreal) was available, while a fair few Tottenham supporters had hoped the Spanish midfielder would rock up at White Hart Lane as a replacement for the unsettled Croatian.

As it turns out, the Asturian will be playing his football in north London next term and, with Modric unlikely to be around, the finest midfielder in the capital will now be found in the red-and-white half of the derby divide.

The Gunners have finally found a man to make them forget Fabregas and clinched what looks like the signing of the summer so far. So move over Eden Hazard, step aside Shinji Kagawa - the next man to light up the Premier League will be playing for Arsenal.

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