SCHRUNS, AUSTRIA - MAY 23: Santi Cazorla (R) of Spain walks off the pitch with his teammate Adrian Lopez during a training session on May 23, 2012 in Schruns, Austria. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
There have been rumors floating around that Malaga don't have any money, despite their supposed riches. Sky Sports reported a couple of days ago that a number of players haven't been paid all of their wages. This is going to cause a lot of Premier League clubs to be linked to the likes of Isco, Solomon Rondon, Santi Cazorla and probably a few others.
And we don't have to wait! The Mirror is already linking Cazorla to Tottenham Hotspur, and they're speculating that Spurs could get him at a cut-rate price because Malaga might sell him to avoid getting in deep trouble for not paying him. The Mirror (and other sites) are calling him a "Moutinho alternative", which in this site's jargon, of course means "Luka Modric replacement".
Okay, so the joke's tired by now. Someone says we should sign x player, everyone asks if he's a Modric replacement. In the case of Cazorla, it's only kind of a joke. He usually plays as a central attacking midfielder and has played quite a bit as a winger as well, but towards the end of Malaga's season, he played more and more as a central midfielder in a double pivot, usually partnering Ignacio Camacho and sitting behind Isco.
Cazorla is certainly not an ideal Modric replacement -- I like him much more as an advanced midfielder than behind a No. 10 or as the link-up guy in a 4-3-3 -- but he has played that role before. He's surprisingly adept at turning away from pressing midfielders, switching the point of attack from deep and playing long balls for a guy who has spent the vast majority of his career playing very high up the pitch.
Where he leaves a bit to be desired, even more so than Modric, is defensively. His defensive positioning when playing in a deep midfield role is questionable at best, and to be honest, I laughed out loud a couple of times while re-watching Malaga's late season game against Atletico Madrid where he started in that deeper role. He might turn into a better defensive player with more time in a deeper central midfield role, but he's very poor in that aspect of his game at this point in time, and he's not exactly a young player.
Cazorla is a realistic purchase for Tottenham, he's good enough to play for Tottenham and he has played in Modric's role before, but he's not a guy that I think should be viewed as a Modric replacement. Compared to Modric, Moutinho, Kevin Strootman and some of the other players that have been brought up as potential replacements, he's defensively deficient. He's best as a No. 10, and we already have a couple of good ones.