Arsenal playmaker Santi Cazorla is close to agreeing a switch to Atletico Madrid, according to reports in Spain.
The news will come as a blow to Gunners fans who have taken to the diminutive midfielder since his move to the Emirates in 2012 from Malaga for £15m.
The 30-year-old Spaniard has struggled to cement a place in the crowded Arsenal midfield, which boasts a raft of similarly creative players and is thought to be keen on a fresh challenge despite having scored six times and assisted seven goals this season in the Premier League.
Cazorla has also been forced to play out wide rather than in his preferred number 10 role at times and is keen to end his stay in North London at the end of the season, says Spanish radio station Cadena Cope.
The news outlet says the player has been in talks with Atletico via his agent for a number of weeks with the parties close to reaching an agreement on a deal.
Cazorla has always maintained that he is happy at Arsenal and had no desire to leave the club because he felt valued – especially by the fans – but his frustrations with Arsene Wenger’s use of him and the fact he has now turned 30 has seen a change of heart with him set on a return to Spain.
Wenger, meanwhile, has a policy of only offering players over 30 a one year deal, which is also likely to have played a role in Cazorla’s thinking – with him wanting more security as he comes toward the latter years of his career.
The French boss has a number of attacking midfield options with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky all vying for a place in the team, not to mention the likes of Mikel Arteta, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, who all are capable of playing there too.
With this in mind, a deal with Atletico seems credible and could represent a good move for both parties.