Arsenal returned to fine form on Sunday with a convincing 2-0 FA Cup win over Middlesbrough that featured yet another starring performance from Santi Cazorla. Having gone off the boil somewhat, the Spanish midfielder has been superb in recent weeks and a key part of the Gunners’ recent run of results. It will be a major concern to Arsenal fans then that there are strong reports in Spain linking Cazorla with a transfer back to Spain this summer with Atlético Madrid.
The speculation was started by radio station Cadena Copa, with claims that negotiations are already underway to make a deal happen and that Cazorla has already provided his agreement. This is not the first time such rumors have emerged. Cazorla was also linked with a move to Diego Simeone’s side last summer, and at the time didn’t rule out making the switch. Atlético would certainly provide an enticing opportunity for a player who joined Arsenal from Malaga in 2012. After a long time in the doldrums, Atlético have enjoyed an astonishing rise under Simeone, winning the Spanish league title last season and coming agonizingly close to lifting the Champions League. It’s a deal that would appear to make sense from their point of view, with Atlético occasionally lacking in creative options. Yet for Arsenal, unless any offer made for a player, who is now aged 30, proves too good to refuse, they will surely be loathed to part with him.
Still, further stories in Spain suggest that Arsenal are already attempting to line up a possible replacement. Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo has reported that both Arsenal and Manchester City have expressed an interest in Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian creator only moved to the Camp Nou from Sevilla last summer, but his future was called into question having been in and out of the side under coach Luis Enrique. However, according to the report, Rakitic rejected the chance to move away and is focused on making a success of his time with the Catalan giants. And, given their transfer ban throughout 2015, it would be a surprise were Barcelona willing to let him to go.
It does, though, seem all-but certain that Dani Alves will be moving on from Barcelona in the summer, The Brazilian right-back’s contract expires in the summer and he has previously made it known that he intends to leave, with a switch to the Premier League prominent in his thoughts. Manchester United have been strongly linked with the 31-year-old, but a report in Metro suggests that Arsenal are set to offer him a contract in the coming weeks. Alves, who has played a key part in Barcelona’s success since joining from Sevilla in 2008, is now free to negotiate a deal with clubs outside of Spain.
There has also been further speculation about Arsenal’s interest in another international with a soon-to-expire contract. James Milner was widely regarded as a target for Arsenal last summer, and, with the England midfielder yet to agree to extend his contract with Manchester City beyond this season, the Daily Mirror reports that Arsenal, along with Liverpool are continuing to monitor his situation. According to the tabloid, Milner wants a four-year deal to remain with the Premier League champions, who are currently only offering three.