Santiago ” Santi” Cazorla González (born 13 December 1984) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Arsenal in the Premier League, and for the Spanish national team. He is a versatile and ambidextrous attacking midfielder who can also play as a winger, Cazorla is noted for his speed, shooting accuracy, capacity to change the rhythm of gameplay and excellent close control. He was ranked as the tenth-best footballer in the world by Bloomberg in 2013.
Born in Llanera, Asturias, Cazorla started playing club football for local team Real Oviedo, being acquired by Villarreal CF six months before turning 18, as his previous club, immersed in a deep financial crisis, suffered two relegations at the end of the 2002–03 season which saw it land in Tercera División. He then progressed through the reserve side, making his debut with the first team on 30 November 2003 in a 1–0 La Liga win at Deportivo de La Coruña, playing one minute in place of Roger , making one more appearance off the bench over the season. He scored his first goal in a 3–0 win at Odense Boldklub in the following summer’s UEFA Intertoto Cup, which the Yellow Submarine eventually won.
Established in the main squad in the 2004–05 campaign, Cazorla scored four goals in a run to the quarter-finals of the season’s UEFA Cup. On 1 May 2005, given an opportunity due to Juan Román Riquelme’s suspension, he scored his first league goal in a 4–0 win over Getafe
CF at El Madrigal , and followed it a week later with a strike in a 2–0 victory at Málaga CF. After contributing to an eventual fourth-place finish, he also made two goalless appearances in the following season’s UEFA Champions League, where Villarreal were semi-finalists.
On 7 July 2006 newly promoted Recreativo de Huelva signed Cazorla for € 600,000 on a four-year deal, with a clause in his contract whereby he could return to Villarreal (for €1.2 million), going on to score in his official debut, a 1–1 home draw with RCD Mallorca, on 27 August. The following 22 April, he dedicated a goal to his father, José Manuel, who had died recently, in a 4–2 home win against Racing de Santander; in the penultimate fixture on 10 June, he struck twice in a 5–2 win at Deportivo de La Coruña. His performances helped the Andalusians finish eighth, and he was named Spanish Player of the Year according to Don Balón, a member of European Sports Magazine, after topping its rating list.
The following year, Villarreal took advantage of the clause in Cazorla’s contract and bought him back, as the team believed he had proven himself. In his first season in his second spell, he was instrumental in Villarreal’s final runner-up placing, providing assists for Nihat Kahveci and Giuseppe Rossi and netting five goals himself.
On 26 July 2011 Cazorla left Villarreal and returned to Andalusia to join high-spending Málaga for a fee of €21 million. He scored on his official debut on 28 August, netting from a superbly taken free kick in a 1–2 away loss against neighbouring Sevilla FC. On 12 September, he scored a brace and gave an assist in another local derby, a 4–0 home win against Granada CF, and netted his fourth in only four games nine days later again from a free kick in a 1–0 home success over Athletic Bilbao.
On 7 August 2012, it was officially announced that Cazorla had signed a long-term deal with Arsenal worth £10 million in the Premier League. He became Arsène Wenger’s third major signing of the summer after the arrivals of German attacker Lukas Podolski and French striker Olivier Giroud.
Cazorla represented Spain at Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, winning both tournaments, and has gained more than 75 caps. He has also played at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.