SANTI CAZORLA has backed Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta as the “right man” to lead his former club forward despite this year’s “inconsistent” campaign.
Cazorla spent six years at the Emirates following his arrival from Malaga in 2012 and became close friends with Arteta while they both played under legendary manager Arsene Wenger.
The Al Sadd ace admits that the Gunners have had a rocky season, which has seen them dropped to ninth place in the Premier League table.
But the 36-year-old is adamant that his good pal has what it takes to turn things around and lead the north Londoners to more silverware amid the club’s Europa League bid.
The Europa League poses as Arsenal‘s only hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League competition and Cazorla is pleased with Arteta’s work in the competition as well as last season’s FA Cup triumph.
Cazorla told uefa.com: “I think he’s the right man to take the club forward.
“It’s difficult to follow a period like Wenger’s – the club has to adapt to another kind of football, another philosophy, another vision of football.
“He’s got a clear idea of how he wants his team to play, they’re in the semi-finals and they did well in the FA Cup [last season].
“They have been pretty inconsistent but you’ve got to give him time and I think they’re convinced that Mikel can get a lot out of the squad and achieve big things.
“I’m great friends with him and whatever good happens to him and the club I’d be happy for them because I’m a ‘Gunner’.”
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Cazorla also spent a total of nine years, across three different spells, at Villarreal, who beat Arsenal 2-1 in Spain last Thursday in the Europa League semi-finals.
Arteta’s men got the away goal but his predecessor Unai Emery has cast doubt over the Gunners’ chances of making it to the final.
Cazorla advised his friend to keep an eye on the “best forward in Spain” Gerard Moreno, who has amassed a total of 26 goals and nine assists in 40 appearances across all competitions this season.
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He added: “He is the best forward in Spain right now. I’m not saying that just because of the goals he scores.
“You shouldn’t just look at what he does in the box and the goals he scores for Villarreal, but also what he does outside the box.
“He’s a player who makes a difference, doesn’t need a lot of chances to score goals, and he’s at a point of his career where he’s full of confidence and at his peak, which is ideal in terms of the team being able to achieve its objectives.
“He’s a chilled-out guy, he works hard and he brings a lot to the dressing room as well.”
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