Arsenal have announced the signing of Spanish international Santi Cazorla on an undisclosed fee from Malaga. The deal is expected to eclipse Arsenal's record transfer fee of £15 million paid for Andrey Arshavin in 2009.
Cazorla is the Gunners' third signing of the summer, following the captures of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, but arguably the most eye-catching. The 27-year-old has been renowned as one of the most gifted midfielders in La Liga for several years now and helped Malaga into a Champions League-qualifying position in his only season for the club. Cazorla was also a member of Spain's victorious European Championship squads of 2008 and 2012.
"Santi Cazorla is a great signing for us," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, according to the club's website. "He is a player with good experience at both club and international level, who will add significant quality to our squad.
"He is a versatile, attacking midfield player who can play comfortably on either side of the pitch or centrally. He has good pace, is technically gifted and will be a huge asset to Arsenal Football Club.
We are delighted that he is joining us."
After arriving at the Emirates, Cazorla said that he was encouraged to complete the move by former Gunners Robert Pires and Cesc Fabregas.
"I have spoken to Robert Pires because he played with me at Villarreal," Cazorla revealed. "Obviously he knew about the rumors of me coming here and always encouraged me to sign.
"The same with Cesc Fabregas. He said this was a big club and that I was going to be very happy here, he said I would adapt easily. And I can feel that."
Arsenal still hope to further boost their midfield with the loan signing of Nuri Sahin. The Gunners have been strongly linked with a move to bring the Turkish 23-year-old to the Emirates next season from Real Madrid. However, according to Spanish publication Marca, Arsenal will face some serious competition for the former Borussia Dortmund star from their Premier League rivals.
Marca reports that Liverpool have joined the race for Sahin and may be strongly-placed given their manager Brendan Rodger's good relationship with Real boss Jose Mourinho. Tottenham are also said to be interested, while Manchester United are keen to sign Sahin on a permanent deal.
Arsenal were also reported to be pursuing another member of the Real Madrid squad struggling for first-team action, Joselu. The striker has been in prolific form for Real's B team, Castilla, but made just one substitute appearance for Mourinho's side last season. While Arsenal were one of a number of Premier League clubs thought to be interested, the 22-year-old is set to sign for Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim, according to the Daily Express.
While the start of the season is now under two weeks away, Wenger could yet make further additions to his squad. Barcelona's Ibrahim Afellay has been linked to Arsenal for several weeks and could represent an enticing option. The Dutch wide midfielder spent almost all of last season out injured and may well struggle to get a starting place at the Nou Camp this campaign.
The 26-year-old's agent has confirmed that his client could be available for a loan move.
"Afellay could go out on loan for a year," Rob Jansen said, according to Sky Sports. "Yes, that is a possibility."
Jansen did go onto say that Afellay remains likely to stay with the Catalan Giants for next season.