Ozil’s vital but here’s the next man Arsenal really need to tie down

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It must be pretty busy up in the Arsenal boardroom right now, and the words ‘contract extension’ are probably being uttered in every sentence. Manager Arsene Wenger is in talks over a potential new deal, while key players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have reportedly said they’ll only stay on if the French boss remains in charge.

Throw into the mix the small matter of every elite club in Europe on the prowl for Hector Bellerin’s services, and it’s easy to see why other potential problems may slip through the net.

And that’s exactly what could happen in the case of Santi Cazorla, whose contract runs out at the end of this season.

In short, the Gunners simply can’t afford to lose the 31-year-old, and here’s why…

Creativity in the middle

For everyone that watched Saurday’s 0-0 draw at home to Middlesbrough, it was clear to see that one thing was missing in the side.

Though many have questioned Wenger’s decision in the past to play Cazorla in a central midfield role, he’s proven in the last few years that this is arguably the best position for him on the pitch.

His creative spark, coupled with a defensive-minded player such as Francis Coquelin makes for a solid pair in the middle of the park.

And while the Gunners looked solid in the middle for the majority of Saturday’s game, they were essentially one attack-minded player down by replacing the Spaniard with Mohamed Elneny.

Experience in the top-flight

For all the quality this Arsenal side is beginning to show, it remains pivotal that they keep hold of their experienced players. And with 129 league appearances to his name for the Gunners, it’s safe to say Cazorla falls under that umbrella.

While the engine room remains one of the most decisive areas of the pitch, it’s important that the integration process between 31-year-old Cazorla and his most-likely long-term replacement Granit Xhaka is a gradual one.

The Swiss midfielder can and will learn a lot from his teammate should he stay at Arsenal.

Cazorla could spark Emirates exodus

Wenger has worked hard in the last few years to keep hold of his best players, with Robin van Perise being the last big name to leave north London for a rival club back in 2012.

And if Cazorla is wearing anything but an Arsenal shirt at the start of next season, it would have to be considered as a step backwards by the manager.

After all, we are talking about a man who Ozil included in his Ultimate XI just one year ago. Such a negative move would inevitably spark talk of other key players heading for the exit door.

With Juventus reportedly keen on signing the playmaker, it’s crucial a new deal is tied up for Cazorla at the earliest opportunity.

So what do Gooners think? Is Cazorla a key player in Wenger’s push for a first Premier league title in over a decade? What does the future look like without the midfielder around? Have your say in the comments section below!

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Alex Apati

Having graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Creative Writing with English, Alex joined the News team following a three year stint working for Ladbrokes behind the counter. When he's not watching darts, he's throwing them. Failing that you'll find him YouTubeing Thierry Henry's greatest Arsenal goals.