Santi Cazorla’s injury problems are reaching the stage where it’s difficult to plan ahead with him in mind. Arsenal have to sign a replacement, but will they?
There’s no end to the list of attackers that have been linked with Arsenal this summer. We’ve already signed one and are looking to add another in the form of Thomas Lemar or Riyad Mahrez. But what about the midfield?
For all the options Arsenal have, there is a big Santi Cazorla-sized hole that needs filling. The Spaniard has been out of action since last October and nobody, not even the club or player himself, knows when he’ll be ready to play again. It took several months of chopping and changing to find a working partnership in his absence.
Cazorla’s role in the Arsenal team cannot be understated. His immaculate ball control and vision helped him find space and pick holes through midfield traffic, helping Arsenal move the ball quickly to the frontline. While Granit Xhaka offers penetration from deep, he does not have the footwork of Cazorla. Arsenal haven’t got another central midfielder with comparable skill or passing ability either.
A replacement for Cazorla should be high on Arsenal’s list, but the news so far suggests that isn’t the case. There have been stories about Jean-Michael Seri of Nice and Leon Goretzka of Schalke, but nothing yet concrete. Arsenal’s focus right now appears to be on strikers, wingers and keeping their best player at the club.
While very important, there is some concern that Arsenal will overlook their Cazorla problem. Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey formed a good partnership while he’s been out, and Wenger may view Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as adequate cover. On top of that, there’s the wild card that is Jack Wilshere and youth options such as U20 World Cup winner Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
While the options are numerous, the quality isn’t quite there. If the spending shackles are off and we intend on really building a squad capable of winning the Premier League, we need another midfielder. A red card to Xhaka, or a hamstring injury to Ramsey would see us take a dip in quality in that area of the pitch.
It could be that Arsenal will turn their attentions to the midfield once the forward line is sorted out. Meanwhile, we’ll have to hope the good, available midfield talent hasn’t been snapped up by other clubs.