In 2016-17, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal suffered their worst season in terms of position in the table since 1994-95 when they finished in 12th place. When Santiago Cazorla was in the side, the Gunners were flourishing, playing some of their best football again. But as was the case for nearly the entire season, they were without their Spanish talent and suffered greatly because of it. Now with the 32-year old having to undergo even more surgery and looking likely to miss almost the entirety of next season, Cazorla’s career could be up with the Gunners.
So here are four different paths that the Arsene Wenger and his club can take to replace the Spanish play-maker in their side.
Stick With 3-4-3
Arsenal actually had a torrid time this season and for a long portion of 2017 were looking destined to finish in a lackluster 6th place. But after Wenger moved to a back-three against Chelsea, the Gunners looked a much improved side again and had a great run at the end of the season to end up in 5th place. Sticking with this formation would get the best out of Aaron Ramsey and this was perhaps most key about Arsenal’s success with the 3-4-3. The Welsh midfielder was brilliant in the final month of the season for Wenger’s side, being given the license and the freedom to roam about the park more, just like Chris Coleman had him do with Wales at Euro 2016. The formation really does seem to suit him best and bring the best out of him so with the quality that Ramsey has on the ball, they already have a man who could replace Cazorla in midfield already in the squad. He just needs to be playing in the right position and have a tough-tackling partner alongside him like a Granit Xhaka.
Sign Dani Ceballos
One of the greatest things about the 2016-17 La Liga season was the emergence and arrival of two star midfielders in the making. One was of course Real Madrid’s loanee Marcos Llorente who led Alaves to a 9th place finish. The other was Real Betis star in the making Dani Ceballos. Ceballos has all the qualities that Cazorla has, possibly even achieving them at a younger age than the 32-year old as the Betis man is just 20-years old. He glides across the field with the ball, completing nearly 3 take-on’s per game and drawing nearly 4 fouls per game. His passing range isn’t bad either while he’s the type of player that can dictate the tempo of the game and has even been likened to the great Andres Iniesta. Although he may be eager to stay in Spain, Ceballos would be an excellent addition to Arsenal Football Club and Arsene Wenger should definitely keep him on his radar.
Let Jack Play
Life hasn’t been easy for Jack Wilshere since bursting onto the scene at Arsenal at the age of 16. He had that one magnificent season in which he was selected for the PFA Team of the Year at just 19 years of age but since then has struggled with injuries, been in and out of the team and even last season spent a loan spell at Bournemouth. Although Wilshere wasn’t a groundbreaking signing for the Cherries, he was a welcomed addition to their team and it was nice to see the old Jack back at it again in spells last season. This season with Cazorla out perhaps is the season that the 25-year old re-establishes himself as one of the best midfielders in the league. We all know he has the quality. He just needs the opportunity to prove it. If he can get his attitude right and avoid injury like he did for the most part in his 27 appearances for Bournemouth in 2016-17, Jack Wilshere will be a great person to bring back into the team.
Sign Corentin Tolisso
One of the stars of this season’s Europa League, Corentin Tolisso has been a prospect in the making for Lyon for quite some time now. The 22-year old has been a stalwart component to the club for years now and was a massive reason why Les Gones were able to make it to the semi-finals of this season’s Europa League. His league form was also excellent bagging 8 goals and 5 assists from 31 appearances as a central midfielder. His passing range is good and his movement at times can resemble that of Santi Cazorla who is also a player that always likes to be on the move. The Frenchman is also incredibly balanced and capable of filling a number of different roles as Cazorla was able to do for the Gunners as well. Corentin Tolisso is even a realistic and reasonable transfer target for Arsenal so hopefully Arsene Wenger wakes up and realizes it.
In short, replacing Santiago Cazorla should not be that difficult of a task for Arsene Wenger’s team. That is provided that they either dip their toes into the transfer market and try and sign a central midfielder who is similar enough to the Spaniard in style or that they work to rebuild from within their squad. Whatever happens, it should be a very interesting off-season to watch at Arsenal Football Club.
Thanks for reading and see you soon!