Santi Cazorla will miss the rest of the season in another major setback for Arsenal. His ankle problem is taking longer than first expected. Arsenal are still very dependent on their 32-year-old midfielder and they need to find a long-term replacement for him.
The Arsenal midfielder has undergone several operations, including a skin graft taken from his arm, on the troublesome area around his ankle. Cazorla might not be Arsenal’s best player but he is certainly their most important. Its no coincidence that Arsenal have had a dip in form since Cazorla has been out.
In early December, Arsene Wenger said that Cazorla’s absence would force the team to play in a new way. “Losing Santi not only puts pressure on some players, but you have to find a new balance again,” he said. “He was our deep playmaker, a guy who all our defenders thought ‘where is Santi?’ Without him, you need to find new ways to build the game up.”
Wenger’s only two senior specialists in the central midfield positions are Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey.
The talismanic duo of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have their contract expiring at the end of the 2017/18 campaign and supporters are concerned that they may leave the Emirates this summer.
Even though it looks like Arsenal are going to extend Cazorla’s contract into next season, there can be no guarantees about his fitness and availability any more.
Arsenal could look back to Spain, at a player like Roque Mesa at Las Palmas. Another midfielder who can control the game from the middle, take the ball in tight spaces and play incisive passes is Joe Allen.
Allen has shone since joining Stoke from Liverpool in the summer but he showed at Euro 2016 that he can play at the highest level. Allen’s clever passing style make him a more natural fit for Wenger’s Arsenal than his compatriot Aaron Ramsey.
He is a low-risk replacement to Arsenal’s most important part. If they go into next season trusting in Cazorla’s ailing body, they may get the same results.
Manchester United and Arsenal are both reportedly monitoring Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi ahead of a possible summer switch.
Arsenal also have their eyes over young German midfielder Daniel Hanslik, according to the Express. The 20-year-old SV Steinbach midfielder was reportedly on trial at the Emirates in recent weeks.