Following reports linking Santi Cazorla with a move to Atletico Madrid, Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has told Revista that the La Liga champions are indeed in contact with the Arsenal midfielder’s advisors about a potential summer transfer.
Cazorla, 30, joined Arsenal from Malaga in August 2012 for around £16 million and has since established himself as a firm fan favourite, scoring 26 times in 130 total appearances, while also recording 33 assists.
The Spain international has earned particular praise for his performances in recent months, netting six Premier League goals since the start of December but, despite his continued importance to Arsene Wenger’s side, there has remained rampant speculation surrounding his future.
Linked with a move to Atletico in the summer, Cazorla told Cadena Cope that such rumours were just paper talk back in August, but the same Spanish radio station claimed at the weekend that a deal between the two sides has now been agreed in principal.
Balague has since confirmed that, while negotiations might not be quite that advanced, there is work being done behind the scenes to bring the Gunners star to the Spanish capital for next season.
“He has 18 months left on his contract at Arsenal, and Atletico have contacted Cazorla’s entourage,” Ballague said.
"Atletico are convinced that they can persuade the player to join them. Then they just have to pay the money.
"There will be one year left on his contract in the summer, and will be available for cheaper.”
Compatriot Gaizka Mendieta, meanwhile, believes Cazorla would relish a return to his homeland, seeing him as a perfect fit for Diego Simeone’s side should Koke and Arda Turan depart at the end of the season.
"You saw yesterday [in Atletico’s defeat to Celta Vigo] the need for someone to hold the ball and pass it," Mendieta said.
"When Arda Turan and Koke are not there, Cazorla will be a great addition.
"He knows La Liga perfectly, so it will work for him."