Arsenal are hoping to add Santi Cazorla to their squad within the next 48 hours, as Arsene Wenger takes advantage of Malaga’s current financial plight.
The Gunners coach will once more be under pressure to deliver success to the Emirates Stadium club next season, having now gone seven years since he last added a trophy to their once-swelling cabinet. The likely departure of star player and captain Robin van Persie, who is refusing to sign a new contract, has further increased the anxiety of supporters, who would never have imagined such a silverware drought when Patrick Vieira converted the decisive penalty against Manchester United which won the FA Cup back in 2005.
Two international forwards, Germany’s Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud of France, have already been signed from Cologne and Montpellier respectively, for a combined fee of £24million. Yet not even this double deal is enough to suggest that Wenger’s side will pose a serious challenge to Manchester City’s crown as league champions next season. However, the potential capture of Cazorla would certainly raise hopes.
The Spanish international was on Arsenal’s wanted list last summer, but they were powerless to prevent the Villarreal star joining Malaga for £17million. Having helped Los Boquerones to a fourth-placed finish, the highest in their history, the midfielder was expected to play a crucial role in helping them negotiate a playoff which would result in entry into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.
But the La Rosaleda outfit, who were bought by Qatari businessman Sheik Abdullah Nasser Al-Thani last year, have stumbled upon financial troubles. With a deadline of Tuesday to clear huge debts or face the possibility of demotion to the second tier, they have been forced to lower their asking price of £20million for Cazorla. This has played into Wenger’s hands, who is said to have set aside £15million to sign the 27-year-old.
According to the Mail, Qatari negotiators have flown into London this weekend in an attempt to finalise a transfer. There is now genuine optimism in the Gunners camp that the deal will be concluded within the next 48 hours, which will come as a timely boost following the news that Jack Wilshere, from whom so much has been expected, is likely to be sidelined until October with his ongoing injury problems.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who has five international caps for England, missed the whole of last season as well as the European Championships this summer. His initial complaint was an ankle injury, but he was also forced to undergo knee surgery in May. There is better news on Abou Diaby, who failed to start a single game last term due to calf and hamstring problems but has been involved in the pre-season programme.