No blogging yesterday on account of all the supercalifragilisticexpiidocious hype over the ‘will he/won’t he/had medical/flying to London’ discussions that were going on yesterday. Plus (and probably the main reason) I had a couple of jars of the amber nectar the night before and then went into London in the morning to watch the latest Batman movie. Which was quality by the way, thanks for asking.
So today’s blog, given all of the noises made about the Cazorla signing yesterday from reliable sources that are not usually known for their unwavering desire for Twitter fame as an ‘ITK’, will almost inevitably also talk a little about our impending signing. After all, if/when it is announced we’ll all be so blasé about it that nobody will want to talk/read about it by then.
Hopefully my thoughts today put a different perspective on the signing though.
Last night I was thinking about the similarities between the Santi Cazorla situation and a similar player we all eagerly anticipated the arrival of a few years ago: Andrei Arshavin.
In the December of 2008 the Arsenal team was looking in trouble. We were fighting desperately just to get into the Champions League spots (I know – sounds familiar) and needed a spark to drive us forward. Everyone – the fans, the team, the whole club, needed a boost of some energy and life injected in to us. Arsene saw this and duly acted with the clinching of Andrei Arshavin for around £16million.
What did we get with him? A short, technically gifted, excellent close controlled dribbler with an eye for a goal. He had starred in the previous summers Euro 2008 and we were ready for him to show he could do it in the Premier League. And he did at first. He lifted us that extra percentage for us to cross the Champions League qualification line.
Unfortunately we all know the rest of the story as well. The mercurial Russian, not gifted with the greatest of pace, could never quite reach that initial ‘BANG!’ impact he had and subsequent seasons has seen his influence slowly dwindle. First the goals dried up, then the effort and application also seemed to dry up too. And when that happened many of the fans turned on him. Finally, after a prolonged period of what seemed to be a lack of desire on the players part, Arsene Wenger, the most patient of all (just ask Abou Diaby) also lost confidence and Andrei was sent packing back to Russia for the remainder of last season.
So why am I bringing this history lesson back to life now? Well, I can see a lot of similarities with Cazorla. Hear me out before you hit the ‘back’ button or the little ‘x’ in the top right hand comer of your screen.
Arshavin was signed for around £16million. He was billed as a small, technically gifted player with not a lot of skill but a bag of tricks. I heard journos speaking of how he could operate behind the front men or either side of them in an attacking formation. He was an international with a big European country. He was the right age, at his ‘peak’ if you will, and so he could compliment the young side we had with his experience in the dressing room.
Does all of that sound familiar? That is what we are getting with Santi Cazorla. He literally ticks all of the above boxes. Yes, there are some differences, like comparing Russia with Spain, or the fact that we are possibly getting a £20-£25million footballer for a knocked down price by taking advantage of Malaga’s current financial plight, but I could see real links between the two types of players.
What does this mean though? Does this mean I’m assuming we’re going to get a good player who will fade away after half a season and spend the next three years never quite living up to the hype? Or that we’re going to get a player that will look like he’s not trying half the time?
Of course not. The two players have different styles, different abilities and will therefore have a different impact on the way that Arsenal play. All that I really want to is to try to do my bit to manage everyone’s expectations – including my own at the same time. Because I too am really excited to see what Cazorla can do. But I just feel like the constant protracted saga’s of signings like Cazorla seems to elevate the player to a mythical level of footballer that is suddenly expected to pull Excalibur from the stone. Then if a player, for what ever reason doesn’t sign for Arsenal, they become this amazing player that we’ve missed out on. Ricky Alvarez was the player last year, who subsequently went on to Inter and I can’t remember seeing too much of since – although admittedly I don’t watch too much Italian football.
The signing of Cazorla will be a good one for the club. It will help us to push forward, improve the whole squad, as well as injecting even more enthusiasm for the new season from the fans. But we need to be patient with all new signings and not expect the uprooting of trees from each. Just ask Gervhino.