By John Cross
Arsene Wenger has earmarked £20m target Santi Cazorla to be central to his Arsenal plans next season.
Wenger has lined up Spain winger Cazorla but the surprise behind the deal is that the Arsenal boss sees him in the playmaker role for his team which casts further doubt on when Jack Wilshere will return from injury.
Wilshere is set to miss the start of the season because of his long-running stress injury in his foot with Wenger this week refusing to set an exact timescale on when he will play again.
Cazorla, 27, can play centrally and Arsenal want to utilise the Spanish international to boost their creativity with the Malaga star eager to come to the Premier League.
Arsenal have got a deal in place for Cazorla while they are also still in for Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila and Caen youngster M’Baye Niang.
But Cazorla will be seen as the headline signing with Malaga likely to be ready to sell for around £20m to ease their own financial problems with their wealthy Middle Eastern owners facing penalties from the Spanish FA for outstanding debts.
Arsenal striker Robin van Persie is likely to be sold before the end of August with Manchester United and Juventus leading the hunt with the Dutchman favouring a switch to Italy.
Manchester City are the third club to have bid but Arsenal are holding out for £20m which would be reinvested in Cazorla.