Arsene Wenger has revealed he thought twice about signing Santi Cazorla for Arsenal, fearing he lacked the physicality for the Premier League.
Cazorla has established himself as one of Arsenal’s most crucial players since joining the club from Malaga in 2012, but Wenger has admitted he was unsure whether a player he had been tracking from a young age would prove a success in England.
“You could question whether he was physically equipped to play in the tough Premier League,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website. “It’s true that I had that doubt, but his quality was so big that I was ready to take that gamble.
“His technical quality, his right foot, left foot, his availability, his vision and the quality of his passing made me go for it.
“I thought, ‘If there is a team in the Premier League where he has a chance to make it, it’s with us.’ That’s why I went for it.”
Wenger also revealed that Robert Pires played a part in convincing him to sign Cazorla after playing alongside the Spaniard at Villarreal.
Wenger added: “I think I first saw him when he was about 20 or 21. He was not a regular player, but in some games we watched you could see he had talent.
“After that Robert Pires moved to Villarreal and played with him. Sometimes I asked Robert, ‘Are there any good players there?’
“He said to me straight away, ‘Cazorla is a fantastic player’. So Robert was a scout for me! He at least confirmed the impression I already had about Santi.”