Who is a Santi Cazorla? by Usmanov
A Santi Cazorla is a highly intelligent, talented and industrious Arsenal midfielder who is able to play the deep-lying central midfield role to perfection. His talent is most suited to teams that like to control games while at the same time effectively transitioning from defense to attack. His skill set includes – but is not limited to
a) Extraordinary ball control
b) Superb vision and an excellent range of passing ability.
Most of all, he is a creative thinker and he can think quickly on his feet. His calmness and composure on the ball is highly remarkable. And he is able to expertly use his skill set in situations that include:
a) Constantly making himself available for a pass. He is almost always an outlet for his teammates.
b) Transitioning defense to attack from deep in his own half by holding the ball long enough to allow time for his teammates to occupy available space and move into dangerous positions.
Do we need a Santi Cazorla?
Simply YES. Yes we do.
It is obvious from the way we played before he moved into playing the deep-lying central midfield position. Our ball possession statistics was always high, but we were not controlling games in the real sense of the word. In attack too, the team was not as threatening as it became when Santi moved into deep midfield.
Our central midfield pivot was solid and balanced with Coquelin and Santi in it, because everytime Coquelin won the ball it was always very easy for him to find Santi. And when he passed the ball to Santi, he would calmly but effectively transition to attack immediately. That tactic was simple yet highly effective.
We changed the way we played, especially against the big boys (Manchester city, Bayern Munich et al). We could concede possession and then hit with the counter attack anytime we won possession back. Santi was the engine oil to our new found way of playing against the big clubs, because he made it work so well.
Anytime we won back possession around our 18 yard box, Santi was almost always there to dribble the ball out and through the first opposition press, by which time his teammates would have moved into position. And he almost never misplaced a pass. Our counter-attacks were always quick, precise and effective. When we needed to play the possession game, Coquelin could drop deep knowing that he did not need to join in attack because Santi is capable of handling matters all by himself.
What plans should we make for when we don’t have a Santi Cazorla?
Then we have to choose one of the following options:
a) Re-work our tactics and style of playing.
b) Find another player who is the next best thing to a Santi Cazorla to play the deep-lying CM role.
Personally, I’d suggest we go with option B. However, considering that the number of players in world football who are fit to play this role is indeed very limited, the question then is: Where should we look to get this type of player?
Inside the club, we may look to groom players like Jack Wilshere and/or Gedion Zelalem for the role in the long-term. They have the most potential in my own opinion.
Outside the club, the closest thing to a deep-lying-central-midfield-Santi Cazorla is Thiago Alcantara of Baryern Munich. Others who I think should be most capable of filling that role are Andre Gomes of Valencia, Ilkay Gundogan of Dortmund and maybe (maybe) Miralem Pjanic of Roma (for his excellent range of passing only).
What do you think?
For the sake of this discussion at least, I’ll like to know what’s your answer to the $anti Cazorla question. If you choose option B, who then do you think is the most likely candidate?