Why Monreal and Cazorla are still better off at Arsenal

Arsenal bowed out of the Champions League last night, while former club Malaga qualified for the last eight.

Last night has been described as the greatest night in the history of Malaga.

There will be two former players particularly disappointed to have missed out on it.

Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal left the Spanish side behind to take their footballing careers to North London, with the latter doing so as recently as January.

It won't help that as Malaga rode through at the expense of Porto thanks to a goal from on loan Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz, the Arsenal duo are sitting no doubt crestfallen at their own side's elimination from the Champions League.

Monreal in particular will feel particularly gutted, as he was cup tied he wasn't even eligible to play for Arsenal against Bayern.

But of course this is nothing new, he knew going into the transfer what he was giving up, and Santi Cazorla too has spoken several times that he is confident he made the move which is best for his career.

But as Malaga ride the crest of a wave, Arsenal appear on a downward spiral which has supporters wondering quite when it will end. It's an opportune good time to consider the trajectories of the two clubs and ask if the players made a step up, down, or simply a sideways one.

Arsenal currently lie in fifth in the Premier League. A defeat by Tottenham last weekend allows them a potential way back in, to cancel out their recent loss to their rivals.

Currently they lie five points off fourth placed Chelsea, and as it stands would be playing Europa League football next season, and have 10 games left to change that course.

Over in Spain, Malaga are locked in a similar battle, they lie in fourth on 44 points level with surprise package Real Sociedad, and just three points separate five teams battling for the position, with Barcelona and the two Madrids seemingly having the top three places locked up.

So Malaga may have confidence they will finish in the top four, but they must be wary just how much their Champions League exploits take out of them, because if they slip up just once, there are four teams battling to take advantage.

The very reason Santi Cazorla left them raises it's head here. He was forced out of the club as their prize asset due to their perilous financial position last summer.

Despite earning more than anticipated from reaching the quarter-finals, if Malaga fail to qualify for next season's competition, it may be a blow they cannot sustain.

Arsenal meanwhile can afford to take the hit, their finances are secure, and unlike Malaga they have not relied on an investment from rich Middle-Eastern owners to get where they are.

If Malaga fail to qualify, which is a real risk, a host of their stars will look at moving on. Young sensation Isco will likely move regardless, while Toulalan has been linked away as has Manuel Iturra whose contract expires in the summer.

With Cazorla, Monreal, and Salomon Rondon to Rubin Kazan, Malaga have earmarked themselves as a selling club as well as a buying one, a problem Arsenal know too well.

With the Gunners however, it's unlikely there will be many high profile departures this summer, with the possible exception of Thomas Vermaelen, but on present form fans would not consider that to be the blow it would have seemed a year ago.

Arsenal are simply better placed to weather any storm, and this financial security is what led the pair of Spaniards to Arsenal, because long-term it gives them a better chance of success, rather than a club built on quick sand which may just be enjoying one long moment in the sun which will be all but a distant memory in a year's time.

Do you agree? Are Cazorla and Monreal still better off at Arsenal despite Malaga's success?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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