In our latest instalment of the Flashback series, we take a look back at a certain moment and look at how things might have changed those initial reactions.
The summer of 2012 perhaps doesn’t bring back many happy memories for Arsenal fans. Sure, another season of Champions League football was secured in May, though the departure of captain and top scorer Robin van Persie could easily have put a dampener on the off-season.
However, days before the Dutchman left for Old Trafford, a future Arsenal hero arrived. The legacy he would go on to leave behind was in stark contrast to his diminutive size, as Santi Cazorla had become a firm favourite among the fans by the time his Gunners days came to an end in 2018:
— P™ (@SemperFiArsenal) May 21, 2018
— TheUnaiView (@TheUnaiView) May 21, 2018
Thanks for the memories little pic.twitter.com/U8gJedYhXp
— AUBAGANG (@WoolWitchGooner) May 21, 2018
Such a magical player to watch. Thank you for everything. #GraciasSanti
— ً (@sidvillainy) May 21, 2018
Cazorla endured an injury-ravaged end to his time in North London, which had halted a marvellous career at Arsenal, during which he helped the club to two successive FA Cups – ending the club’s nine-year wait for a major trophy (with his teammates going on to repeat the success without him in 2017).
There is no shortage of Arsenal memories when it comes to Cazorla – be it his first goal at Anfield, his match-salvaging free-kick in the 2014 FA Cup final, or his mastermind of a performance against then-champions Manchester City that transcended old rivalries as even former Tottenham man Gary Lineker could not help but wax lyrical over the Spaniard in January 2015.
It could be argued that Arsenal had not seen a player like him at the Emirates Stadium since his departure to Villarreal, though this summer, some fans were hoping that the signing of Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid would give the Gunners a taste of what they may have been missing over the last few seasons, even if only temporarily:
It will be a pleasure to watch Ceballos at Arsenal. Kind of the midfielder the club missed since Cazorla/Wilshere left. Technically superb and brave. He possess great acceleration and flair. Arsenal needed a ball carrying midfielder, who´s also very good in tight spaces. #AFC pic.twitter.com/aEVPyIWYE7
— Renato (@rehnato) July 25, 2019
I really hope Ceballos is the real deal. We haven’t had any decent first phase build up since we lost Cazorla
— David Trezeguet (@eugene_101) July 25, 2019
Here’s me hoping Ceballos & Torreira can be our new Cazorla & Coquelin #HolaDani
— Viz (@VizuaLizah) July 25, 2019
Ceballos bringing back those Cesc Fabregas/Santi Cazorla vibes back at the Arsenal for next season. Love to see it #afc
— Rhys (@RhysK_AFC) July 25, 2019
It is easy to see why such comparisons have been made – with Cazorla’s passing rate consistently reaching levels above 85% across his seasonal performances for Arsenal, even if his latter campaigns may appear a little skewed due to the lack of appearances he was able to make towards the end of his career in N5.
Given his average rating (as per WhoScored) of 8.01 across his five appearances for Spain at the Under-21 European Championships in June, Ceballos certainly looks like a prospect on the up, and although he may not be expected to stick around at Arsenal, he may nevertheless be capable of evoking the memories of a predecessor as the Gunners’ Spanish magician.
Arsenal fans, can Dani Ceballos have an impact like Cazorla did this season? Join the discussion by commenting below!
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