Arsene Wenger has praised Santi Cazorla for becoming the driving force in their quest for European football next season.
Wenger paid 15 million pounds to bring Cazorla to the club in August 2012 and had been impressed with the way he has quickly adapted to the English top flight.
He impressed immediately, slotting into the creative role in midfield that Arsenal had been missing since the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona.
The Spaniard has also added goals from midfield, which after the departure of Robin van Persie has been key in Arsenal’s challenge for a UEFA Champions League spot.
In his 37 appearances this season the 28-year-old has scored 12 goals and created 11 for his team-mates, but after not featuring in the PFA Team of the Season Wenger believes the rest of the division do not appreciate Cazorla’s talents.
“I think he is a bit of an underrated player in the Premier League,” the Frenchman told the club’s official website.
“When you think he was not in the team
of the season picked by the players, it’s quite harsh. Personally I
would have put him in there.
“When you look at his quality, that is of course outstanding, but
also his attitude and work-rate for the team. He’s one of the players who
has been absolutely outstanding this season.”
Wenger was also keen to praise the combinations of Theo Walcott and Oliver Giroud, and Lukas Podolski with Cazorla after it was revealed the two pairings had combined for more goals than any others in the Premier League.
“Giroud and Walcott is easier to understand because one crosses the ball and the other finishes,” he added.
“Podolski and Cazorla are more short-passing and combination players so that as well is explainable by the characteristics of the two players.”