My tribe

Why Malaga's only hope is to sell Santi Cazorla (and Isco) to Arsenal

Arsene Wenger's hopes of closing a deal for Santi Cazorla from Malaga received a massive boost yesterday.

Arsenal have struck personal terms with the midfielder, but have been forced to navigate a financial crisis and a club sale as they negotiated a fee with Malaga.

However, with Taci Oil, who were in talks with Malaga about buying the club, announcing they were walking away from the deal, Arsenal are suddenly holding a straight flush.

Cazorla's agent, Amadeo Rengel, was expected at Malaga's HQ yesterday to demand they accept Arsenal's latest offer of €20 million for the Spain international. It was expected the Gunners would sweeten the deal by including future bonuses based on appearances and success.

But with the Taci Oil option now lost, Malaga need cash fast to cover debts and pay outstanding player wages - which are due at the end of business today.

A Malaga source told that their financial situation is now so acute, there is concern that Cazorla will not be the last player sale - and Arsenal could ask for teammate Isco in a double raid.

Preparing for a first ever Champions League campaign, the club's dire finances under Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani is baffling to Malaga fans. Sheikh Abdullah has been accused of managing the club by remote control and providing funds to meet the club's running costs in an ad-hoc manner.

Luciano Alonso, the local Minister of Culture and Sport, said yesterday: "What I believe is that we must end this era of uncertainty.

"The collective dream of all fans, that of playing in the Champions League, is being cheated in terms of no-one knowing what is going to happen to their club."

With the club in crisis, it will be difficult for Cazorla - and potentially Isco - to turn his back on Malaga's fans. Though only a year into his stay, the manner of his departure will still weigh heavily on him.

While still with Villarreal, Cazorla famously turned down a move to Real Madrid three years ago - something so rare in Spanish football he still gets questions about it today.

"It is true that everything was a mess," Cazorla recalls. "I was caught in a phone conversation in which I admitted I would go to Madrid, but in the end decided to stay with Villarreal.

"It was my decision and I do not step away from that fact."

At the time, Real Madrid officials and supporters in the press attacked Cazorla and questioned his ambition.

"I am satisfied with the decision I made. From the day I arrived in Villarreal I was very happy and even now I am happy with the decision I made."

There'll be no repeat involving Arsenal, however.

Cazorla has his heart set on moving to London, well aware that Wenger has been following him for the past 12 months. Rengel already has agreed personal terms with Arsenal and can't see any room for maneuver from Malaga.

Malaga teammates are resigned to losing Cazorla, whose arrival was trumpeted as part of the club's exciting new era under Sheikh Abdullah.

"I personally am lost on the issue of Santi (Cazorla). If he must leave, then so be it. A decision could've already been made. And if someone does arrive, it's the same thing. That's it," admitted a frustrated Joaquin.

Interestingly, Cazorla is scheduled to speak with the media later this week - but he could be on his way to London before then.

"Right now I cannot speak, but later I will," he told reporters after training on the weekend. "This is something that has nothing to do my relationship with the fans."

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

Have your say
  • Add your favourite leagues and clubs
  • Build your own personal news stream
  • Easily share your favourite stories
  • Connect with what your friends are saying

Select your favourite
leagues and clubs
to get started.

Already part of MyTribe?