The Top Ten Spaniards to play for Arsenal from worst to best – Cazorla v Fabregas?

Two things encouraged me to write this list. Firstly, a week ago having paid respects to Santi Cazorla, a few readers got into a debate with each other about whether Santi better then Cesc Fabregas? With England playing Spain on Monday Night, I thought it be timely to rank from worst to best, the 10 Spanish players to represent Arsenal in the Premier League.

10- Fran Merida
Poaching the teenager from Barcelona’s academy was always going to see comparisons to Cesc Fabregas. This was big news in Spain who saw Merida has a hot prospect and were getting tired of UK laws allowing the likes of Arsenal stealing them from under their noses. Gooners learnt of Merida through the League Cup but Arsene Wenger at numerous times was quick to stress this was a man being prepared for the future. Loan moves were put into place to prepare him for the physical nature of English football. He was being transitioned into making the bench for Premiership games while his club had verbally agreed a contract extension. We would later accuse Atletico Madrid of tapping him up, taking advantage of homesickness common in Spanish players. This again created headlines in his native’s media, but he’s done little since to warrant the attention. In the short term he started more in La Liga then he would have in the Premiership. Long term though, history shows Mr Wenger was willing to give youth a chance. Merida’s yet to show why one of the biggest clubs in England and Spain had such a bitter tug of war over his services.

9- Miquel
Made an impression for Spanish youth sides which had a who’s who of Europe chasing him. He started with our under-age squads, eventually being named captain. Paying off the stadium debt, Arsenal were open to giving youngsters a pathway. If you impressed in cup ties, you would be transitioned into the weekend plans. Loans would also be set up not to signal you were not in the managers plans but to give you experience of the physical demands of the English game. So, a spell in the Championship was sink or swim. Could he show the personality to cope? Despite promotion with Leicester, he only started 12 times, setting back his progress. Having not done enough in the second tier of the pyramid, all parties agreed on a permanent switch to Norwich. Now back home in Getafe,

8- Lucas Perez
One of the few players you could accuse Arsene Wenger of not giving a fair chance to. The few opportunities he was given, he made an impact, but it didn’t seem to alter his manager’s opinion of him. This was harsh when you consider he was ready to move to Everton before Arsenal called at the last moment. Some sources suggest he was guilty by association, becoming best friends with Sanchez at a time the Chilean was deemed a disruptive influence in the dressing room. Where management felt they couldn’t make an example out of their best player, they had enough fire power to phase out Perez. To be fair though, on loan back in Spain and now at West Ham, he’s yet to prove the old regime wrong,

7- Almunia
Since Jens Lehmann, Arsene Wenger was accused of having a blind spot over goal keepers. Were there worse than Almunia? Yes. But not many so average in such a crucial position would play so many games for a top side. It’s not even a judgement on his ability. He simply didn’t have the mentality to cope with competing at the highest level. He inspired no trust in his back four and once he lost his confidence, it took him ages to get it back. Of all the evidence of Stan Kroenke’s lack of ambition, there were consecutive January’s where many thought were were primed to be champions if we just improved who was between the sticks. Both times we haggled over a million pounds to get Mark Schwarzer, refusing to budge on our valuation. A Billionaire worried about a million pound for the sake of a title?

6- José Antonio Reyes
After the Reyes experiment, no wonder Arsenal would never again pay over the odds for someone from Spain. When you buy someone from that part of the world, there’s always a danger of them hating the weather, finding our League too physically demanding and holding a dream of playing for Real Madrid. Still though, he was being paid thousands a week to at least try and fight his home sickness. From day one, he couldn’t settle in London, was targeted by Man United who kicked him off the pitch and was constantly linked with a switch to the Bernabeu. I never felt either party did enough to make it work, even when he showed his undoubted skill. Perhaps our board saw keeping someone not happy on such a huge wage, a waste of money, especially with a stadium to pay for.

5- Bellerin
Four years ago, you would have said Hector would end up higher on this type of list. After his breakout season, Barcelona were reportedly willing to pay 50 million for the full back, it assumed it a case of when – not if – he returned to Spain. It’s natural one so young, would struggle with consistentcy but few confidences seem to have suffered more than the right backs due to the turmoil at the club. Having come through our academy, he seemed more hurt then most by the constant abuse from his own supporters. This is where the likes of Sanchez let him down. Senior professionals were being paid hundreds of thousands to be leaders to a young dressing room. Instead of guiding them through a storm, teaching them it’s natural to have bad times, they let everything fall apart. Bellerin still relied on his speed but was no longer taking on his man and crossing into the box. One of Unai Emery’s first tasks is too get him to find his mojo, and the early signs are that it’s happening. Would you take the 50 million?

4- Arteta
It took an 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford to pressure Stan Kroenke into even thinking about replacing Fabregas and Nasri, causing an unorganised last-minute trolley dash on deadline day. Of course, the American was never going to reinvest all the cash he just recruited, so we had to find cut price options. Arteta even had to take a pay cut and beg Everton for the transfer, realising it was the last chance for such a move. No one pretended he was better than Fabregas, but it’s perhaps underappreciated what the likes of him and Benayoun gave to us at the time. With the whole club in disarray, we needed a couple of steady hands to give professionalism and standards to a young squad. How we got into the top 4 that year with the squad we had is a mystery.

3- Monreal
Originally an understudy to Gibbs, Monreal was an easy scapegoat for gooners, frustrated with the overall performance of the club. This was not helped when, in a bid to save some cash, instead of buying a new centre back, the left back was asked to learn the new role. His attitude and work rate over the years has stood out, as at times it’s contradicted some of his peers’ approach to the cause. It’s got to a point where Nacho’s grown into one of our few leaders. Adding goals to his game, he’s getting better the more he matures.

2- Cazorla
Such was the nature of how Van Persie left and how the club had already spent that incoming money, meaning they knew all along he was going, it overshadowed that summer that we brought in a quite beautiful player. The way Arsene Wenger spoke, this was his idealistic footballing prototype, if he had his way he’d have 11 Cazorlas. Midfielders like him would often prove to be lightweight but he could look after himself as well. They say, don’t appreciate things until they are gone but because we were told his original injury was minor we never really got to mourn what we lost, till he left in the summer. It’s too far-fetched to say his demise stopped us being Champions but a fully fit Cazorla wouldn’t have seen us fall as far as we have. The biggest compliment I can give the Spaniard is you could have put him in any previous Arsenal team and he would have not been out of place.

1- Fabregas
Having read comments last week of why it’s crazy to suggest Fabregas was better than Cazorla, I do feel some opinions are formed on how the two midfielders left our club. Santi was robbed of the best years of his career, the end was not how either party planned or wished. Cesc meanwhile always wanted to go home to Barcelona and now plays for one our biggest rivals. I do believe our ex skipper loved us though having been in London since a 15-year-old. Like, the likes of our old back 4 did a great job of teaching a young Viera and Henry the traditions of our history, they passed that onto the Spaniard. Fabregas was the perfect reflection of our club’s footballing values.

Ironically, he would be vocal about how Chelsea would bully us while we tried to do things, ‘the right way’. He led by example, enjoyed overseeing a young group, being himself only in his early twenties when made captain. For that group of players, I have always viewed the League Cup final loss to Birmingham the beginning of the end. Weeks before we had beaten Barcelona, were top of the Prem, with the media debating how many trophies we would win. We mentally fell apart after that loss, letting it impact on everything else. That was the moment I believed our captain realised without help, in terms of experience and physicality he wouldn’t be able to go to back to Spain with more than an FA Cup winner’s medal. Moving back to the UK, his chosen destination was North London, but his former boss declined a buy back clause. One of Wenger’s final mistakes?

Dan Smith


  1. Goonster says:

    Reyes would have been as good a our Cazorla but the guy was a moaning whining and whinging man-child at Arsenal. His technical talent was beautiful.
    But the idiot just seemed to moan and whinge more than our Koala Bear (Ozil). Crying about home sickness, missing his mother’s cooking and Spanish warms weather. I think he eve forced a move to Madrid or something. Smh

    But apart from that I thought he was a very talented player.

    1. gotanidea says:

      Too bad to see Reyes’ skills wasted at Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, similar to what happened to Hleb at Barcelona

      Fabregas must have thought he could be Iniesta’s or Xavi’s successor, but the skill levels of those Barcelona stars were simply different than Fabregas and Hleb

  2. Patrick_G says:

    Cesc wanted to come back to our club but Wenger wasn’t interested. Don’t know why to be honest when Jack and Ramsey was always injured. He would of teamed up well with Santi. But we needed a DM more than a CAM/CM because we had Ozil as well.

    1. arie82 says:

      When you feel betrayed by your own son.
      That wenger feel to fabregas

      1. Lanert says:

        If Wenger could not forgive Fabregas, what should the father of the prodigal son say? Lol

  3. gotanidea says:

    Bellerin should be rated higher than Arteta. Monreal should be the best one due to his contributions over the years (three FA Cups) and Cazorla would be the second best

    I rate Fabregas under Cazorla, because Fabregas declined a lot after his incredible first season in the senior team. His work rate and willingness to challenge the opponent’s defenders has been diminishing ever since

    It was a pity to see what happened to Merida, because he was such a huge talent. I would rate him above Miquel, because of his immense talent in the past

    1. Nayr says:


      not fair to judge bellerin,he is still just 23 years.barely began his career.

      bellerin in a few years will top the list.
      emery can improve hector into one of the best RBs in the world.

      1. jon fox says:

        Based on WHAT EXACTlY? Hope only! He just simply can’t defend at all, so how the hell can you possibly rate him? And 23 is not a youngster at all. Any top player is showing regular quality well before then. Bellerin has been a regular now for 4 seqasons, thanks to WENGERS INEPTITUDE IN JUDGING – OR EVEN CARING ABOUT – DEFENCE AND DEFENDERS. He is less of a defensive liability under Emery and at last has learned to cross an attacking ball, so he MAY have some hope BUT only as a pure winger. At defending he is a sick joke. Plus under Emery, we have at last – a decade too late- a proper DM to shore up the defence, which masks BELLERINS SHORTCOMINGS A BIT.

        1. Midkemma says:

          How about based on his breakthrough season where the coaching was done by the kids/U23 and not Wenger?

          He got moved into the first team, his athletic ability covered his pos weakness and people excused him for being young and will learn.

          We all know Wenger wasn’t great at educating defenders on how to def, where they should be in situations etc… So why are you slating him when he did break into the 1st team and keep the french national out of the starting lineup (when back fit)?

          Oh and no need to shout at Nayr for supporting an Arsenal player when she/he is an Arsenal supporter, one would hope that such an experienced gentleman as yourself would comprehend what support means and if you are supporting or moaning like a spud.

          1. Nayr says:

            Midkemma well said.

    2. kev says:

      If you’re talking about the Arsenal Fabregas then he’s simply the best Spaniard to ever play for us.Every time Fabregas touched the ball and looked up when he was in Arsenal it looked as if his pass was going to create a chance.I’ve never seen any player like him when he was with us.Cazorla was good but I don’t get why people put him above Fabregas just because of the way he uses both feet and his technical ability.Fabregas was far more complete and any time he was on the ball I thought a goalscoring chance was on the way no matter where he was standing.Hes the best “defense splitting passer” I’ve ever seen.Go back and watch his matches and you’d know what I mean.Most other world class passers were because they were very accurate but Fabregas always looked to split the defense from all kinds of ranges.

      1. gotanidea says:

        Fabregas’ performance in his first season was magical, but I don’t remember any of his through balls after that phenomenal season. He also didn’t show it regularly at Barcelona, therefore he could not succeed Iniesta or Xavi

        Ramsey’s through ball to Aubameyang at Fulham is a defense splitting pass that I expect from our no 10s

        1. kev says:

          He was a better player for Arsenal than Cazorla was imo.To me he’s the best and as I said I’m talking of his time at Arsenal.The fact that Barca thought he could succeed Xavi or Iniest further shows his quality.

        2. kev says:

          He was a better player for Arsenal than Cazorla was imo.To me he’s the best and as I said I’m talking of his time at Arsenal.The fact that Barca thought he could succeed Xavi or Iniest further shows his quality even though that season prior to his move want his best.

        3. Goonster says:

          Where were you for all the time Fabregas was here?
          What this.

      2. iffybright says:

        It seems many of them didn’t watch Cesc…..
        Here in Nigeria, we call him Fabregpass……
        He was so good throughout his years at Arsenal…..
        I won’t mind if Arsenal get him this January, as you can see, he doesn’t get into Chelsea team regularly again…..
        Far better than Ozil and Ramsey combined……

        At least you can be assured, he won’t get missing in games…..

        I love Cesc….
        I missed him so much
        same with Hleb and Rosicky

        1. Lanert says:

          @Iffybright, you can say that again. Fabrepass was the name given to him, because every pass from Fabregas was seen as a potential goal. Carzola was another classy player entirely, that’s why there could be a debate on both. I
          Although, if i’m to choose, i will pick Fabregas ahead of Carzola (just with a bit of difference). However, every fan opinion will always defer due to the great qualities those two players pocesses.

      3. Midkemma says:

        Cesc goal to game ratio for us: 0.165 (212 EPL games, 35 goals)
        Cazorla goal to game ratio for us: 0.193 (129 EPL games, 25 goals)

        “Fabregas was far more complete”

        Wouldn’t a more complete footballer score more goals…?

        I am not saying he was a poor player, I am not going to say he is a more complete player when Cazorla was massive for our CM, he made Mustafi look good while also aiding Ozil get 19 assists in that year. Other CM played with Coquelin but non of them could form such a formidable partnership. Cazorla team play was miles better than Cescs… Oh Cesc had nice vision but there are other things to consider… Like the players Cesc had around him and the players Cazorla had around him.

        I would love to have seen a prime Cazorla and Cesc sit ahead of Torreira though 😉

        1. Lanert says:

          Fabregas Torreira
          Marriage made in heaven that would have been.

          1. Midkemma says:

            I really like how Cazorla moved the ball out from the back, the way he could hang onto the ball and wriggle out of tight spaces to pick the pass he needs to pick.

            I would swap Cesc and Cazorla in your lineup for this reason.

            Ozil got 19 assists the last full season Cazorla played, imagine Cesc in his prime ahead of a player like Cazorla who could release players ahead of him ^.^
            I do rate Ozil highly, he is a genius at what he does, Cesc was better though at the ACM role.

  4. Sandziso says:

    Off topic : I can see a future Mr Arsenal in Rob Holding. I have learnt love his play.

  5. Innit says:

    For me it would be
    1. Cazorla
    2. Fabregas
    3. Monreal

    Wish we had a Cazorla type player in the back of central midfield to pair with Torreira and a Fabregas type attacking midfielder who is consistent.

    1. iffybright says:

      Fabregas is still missed at Arsenal…..
      we created so many chances upon chances during his days…
      Our game was fluid and so good on eyes….
      After Hleb Cesc Rosicky Song flamini Diaby left, our game became more boring and chances became so few…..

      Now In England, Manchester City and Liverpool are the most interesting team to watch Now….
      Arsenal has become boring, because we have no ball playing midfielders and unpredictable technical players like Diaby Hleb and Rosicky…..

      The team has become more of sideway passers,
      A team where a useless player like Ramsey is glorified and the most overrated player ever like Ozil is Worshipped………

      my point is this
      don’t ever compare santi with Cesc…..
      Cesc was a king and still a big legend at Arsenal
      far better than Ozil

  6. iffybright says:

    1 Cesc Fabregas…. One of the best ever midfielders to have ever played for Arsenal

    2 Antonio Reyes was so incredible and superb despite his short time he spent at Arsenal….
    He was superb throughout d second part of that unbeaten season and our finest season in the UEFA Champions League in 2005/2006 Season….
    How I wished he was never home sicked…

    No 3… Santi Cazorla..
    No 4 Monreal

  7. jon fox says:

    I only highly rate numbers one, two and three on the list at all. Arteta and Bellerin have some skill but are just not effective. The others, higher list numbers, are just makeweights. One person on here has Reyes as his second best Spaniard. I thought him a vastly overrated wimp and could not wait for him to leave.

    1. iffybright says:

      Overrated, Wow….
      it seems you didn’t watch this guy at Sevilla and Arsenal…..
      He glides and runs at defenders just like Ryan Giggs…..
      He was flawless throughout his short stay with us….
      He singlehandedly took us to the champions league final….
      He was the best player in that champions league final season…..
      He was influential in many of those champions league matches….
      Juventus Real Madrid could not curtail him……

      Manchester United players could not handle him in all the matches he played against them……

      He was feared
      ask Gary Neville and Roy Keane

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        I liked what you said about Fabregas and Hleb but unfortunately Antonio Reyes was too weak, his mother had to pick him up after training. The boy never grew up. You then go on to say Neville and Keane feared him, are you kidding? They kicked him out of every Arsenal/Manchester United game he played in.

        1. iffybright says:

          Kicking him was the only alternative they had to reduce his threat…….

          you guys should try and watch all his games at Arsenal…..

          most Arsenal fans still harbours that grudge against him, maybe Because of his Childish antics or maybe because he left us so soon……..

          anyway I love Antonio Reyes…..
          He made our attack more frightening and incredibly devastating throughout his days…….

          Am a good football player
          So I know one, when I see one

          1. Kenny Rolfe says:

            I also played at a reasonably high level Iffybright and agree he was a good player with a lovely left footI but he just wasn’t strong enough for the Premier League.

      2. jon fox says:

        I watched virtually every home game he played and am not so easily pleased with mediocrity as you clearly are. He was often injured and in one home game was down injured withing four seconds of the start. Didn’t like it up him, in the vernacular. A wimp! No guts, no muscle no likee our snowy weather either. I repeat, a wimp . And some of your comments about “gliding like Giggs” are sheer fantasy . Specsavers for you?

  8. iffybright says:

    But your favourite Ramsey is world class….
    Antonio Reyes was shit……
    let me tell you this,
    Add Antonio Reyes, Cesc and Hleb to this Team and see if Arsenal won’t Win the league…..

  9. Midkemma says:

    For me, Cazorla is number one, Cesc was great but Cazorla made me excited a lot more than cesc ever did.

    I liked Cescs passion but he wasn’t the magician that Cazorla was, Cesc could drive forward but Cazorla could hold onto the ball and make anyone look stupid on the pitch.

    I never accused Wenger of not giving Perez enough of a chance, he was a one season wonder before he moved to us and done nothing since, Wenger seen him in training week in and week out..
    Any wonder Emery didn’t want to keep him? People who do accuse Wenger of that… Question to you all. What is your view on Emery not giving him a chance? You going to moan at Emery like you did at Wenger?

    Reyes didn’t settle to the physical nature of the EPL, he did get kicked a lot and he lost interest in Arsenal, to be fair though we did buy him when he was being linked to Real Madrid as a Raul replacement… He appeared to have his heart on that as well if I recall correctly. I didn’t think he would make it as I didn’t think this league was right for him but he was a massive talent that got ruined at Arsenal.
    Reyes wasn’t that bad though when you look at him in La Liga, he did help AM to win the UEL a couple times, he has helped seville win the UEL as well.. Heh, maybe this guy is a UEL specialist and we could do with him now XD (joke).

  10. Babasola says:

    Fabregas Was Incredible OH LORD!
    Must be cos it’s in the past or cos of how he left that some are rating Cazorla over him

    Cesc did magic every time
    Cazorla was very skillfull

    From his breaking into the team, we watched him every year add something new to his game

    He started as a DM/CM marking and winning tackles

    Another year included freekick scoring on a regular

    Another season started scoring goal when he became AMF

    And someone mentioned Fab declining after one fantastic season

    Oh I beat my Chest that person didn’t watch Fab

    He was glorious good

    I remember him scoring Sunderland
    They passed and he immediately collected it from them again at the Center Circle and went on – on his own to score them AGAIN !!!

    I remember him marking a Keeper way outside the box 18 and the Keeper fumbled a shot at him and that rebounded back into the far net to score

    All his magic with Walcott

    Fab was awesome

  11. veehiicee says:

    Not Sunderland but against Spurs

  12. herb says:

    The great spanish players at arsenal starting from Best:

    1. Cazorla
    2. Fabregas
    3. Jose Antonio Reyes
    etc. etc.
    Key Notes:
    1. Cazorla > Fabregas (end of)
    2. Jose Antonio Reyes – This is one of the guys that Arsenal has been missing for > 12 years now. A person who can run (at frightening speed) and dribble with the ball passing through the center. That’s why the technical team (Raul and Sven) are looking at Miguel Almiron (mind you does not play going to the wings but passes in the central area) synonymous with Thomas Lemar who Wenger wanted. Now Arsenal fans you know where this all come from!!!!

    Also another player i was sad to go was coquelin, because unlike me all other fans adamantly thought he was only good at tackling; but this is a player who i rated even more than kante in terms of ball usage for a man of his position. So i task you guys to watch people with more keen eyes.

  13. herb says:

    – Mind you just imagine at one stage, Cazorla was playing with some of the Arsenal comedians like Ramsey, Welbeck (at center forward), Bellerin, Gibbs, Metersaker, etc. The only great players he played with was Sanchez.
    – Contrast that with Fabregas who was playing with great players like Van p (striker), henry, hleb, gallas, rosicky, and even eboue who is >>>>> Bellerin. To name a few.
    – I am one of the people that think Cazorla with all his talent should have been winning major titles but unfortunately, the crop of players at arsenal during his time were just a massive let down for his talent. That is why Hleb knew it and left the Barca. please don’t hate him because if i was in cazorla’s shoes i would have either gone to barca also to win major titles.

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