Official Cazorla is official

Morning to you.

It’s like the day after getting a package you were anxiously waiting for. You’re glad it’s finally arrived and the waiting didn’t seem that long after all. Officially, 100%, Santi Cazorla is a Gooner. He signed from Malaga for the ubiquitous undisclosed fee on a long-term contract. Suggestions that a four year deal has been signed and Arsenal have paid just €15m for him mean it’s one of, if not the, best transfer deals of the summer.

He is vastly experienced and although some will say he’s a fringe player in the Spanish team, 45 caps when you consider the competition is not to be sniffed at. When someone like Cesc Fabregas calls him a ‘special player’ then you know he’s got the goods. He’s creative, has an eye for a goal, takes a decent free kick and his range of passing with both feet is outstanding. He will, undoubtedly, add a great big dollop of creativity to the side and while I’m not playing down Alex Song’s fine contribution last season at all, I think that he was our most creative midfielder meant this was an area that we could strengthen.

Arsene Wenger said:

Santi Cazorla is a great signing for us. He is a player with good experience at both club and international level, who will add significant quality to our squad. He is a versatile, attacking midfield player who can play comfortably on either side of the pitch or centrally. He has good pace, is technically gifted and will be a huge asset to Arsenal Football Club. We are delighted that he is joining us.

And Cazorla himself said all the usual stuff about joining a new club, but revealed he’d had some first hand encouragement to sign for us:

I spoke to Robert Pires, we played together at Villareall and obviously he knew about the rumours of me coming here and encouraged me to sign. He said it was a really good club and that I would enjoy London.

The same with Cesc, he said the same, that it was a great club. He said I would be very happy here and I would adapt easily. I can feel that even though I’ve only been here a few hours!

He’s currently away on the training camp in Germany and although it might have seemed protracted it’s absolutely worth it. I can’t remember the last time I was genuinely this excited by a signing and what that player might bring to the team. Cazorla has, apparently, turned down Real Madrid, amongst others, to join us (exactly what Robert Pires did), and there really can’t be any doubts about his quality as a player.

Of course there might be a period of adaptation, to England and the Premier League, but he strikes me as the kind of guy who will cope well with that. At the end of the day it is just football and when you’re as good as he is the challenges are much easier to overcome. His versatility will be make him hugely important too. He can play either side of the front man in the attacking trio or he could easily slot in as the most attacking of the midfield three.

It means the manager can vary his forward options and when you add Cazorla to the attackers we have, and the midfielders we have, it looks like a very strong panel of players and one that has the depth that we were all crying out for last season. As for the deal itself, we might have taken advantage of Malaga in a time of desperation, but that doesn’t dampen the ambition this signing shows. It takes our (pre-sales) spending to £36m, that is a real and tangible investment in the team.

And if you look at the players we’ve brought in over the last 12 months, bar a couple of youngsters (Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jenkinson) we’ve raised the average age and experience of the team considerably. I don’t think we’ll ever move away from trying to develop and find good young players, nor should we, but the change now is that these young players will grow up around more seasoned professionals who can show them the ropes, tell them what to expect and how to react in certain situations. It aids their development and ultimately it means the cream of the young crop will rise to the top.

Anyway, it is a signing which should both encourage and excite everyone. While we still have issues to sort out, and I think we all know who and what they are, that the club has proactively and successfully done business without waiting to see what happens or what money we might generate from sales, shows a real change of approach and that’s very welcome. Signing three, experienced international footballers in their peak years is not to be sniffed at whatever happens with the potential departures.

So, bienvenido Santi Cazorla, and as easily as we dish out the ‘OMGs’ and ‘WTFs’ when it comes to Arsenal transfer business, it’d be churlish not to give a doff of the cap for a job well done thus far. We look, on paper at least, a better squad than we did this time last summer and hopefully that will be reflected in the way we start the season.

In terms of other news, The Guardian say our interest in Nuri Sahin is dependent on what Arsene Wenger does with Alex Song. They’ve been quite strong two days in a row saying that the manager is irritated by Alex Song’s apparent desire to listen to offers from other clubs, principally Barcelona. In public Song hasn’t done anything to invite interest or suggest he’s unhappy, but we do know the interest from Barcelona is real and with Darren Dein representing him now we also know that’s a road well travelled. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see with this one.

If completing the Cazorla deal means we can turn our focus to moving one or two (or more) players on, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to expect departures before more arrivals. Either way it promises to be busy between now and the start of the season.

Speaking of the season, and finally for today, you can check our 2012-13 Arsenal squad profiles over on Arseblog News. We’ll update them as and when necessary but for now take a gander as we look at the strengths and weaknesses of each player.

Till tomorrow.

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