Santi Carzorla is the most underrated, underappreciated Arsenal player of the last 20 years. Outside of Arsenal circles, that is. I think that Gooners, especially looking back, appropriately rate Santi, but even Arsenal supporters might be underselling him. That dude was an absolute baller and a big reason the later Arsene Wenger teams ran so smoothly.
I think part of the reason Santi is overlooked by the footballing public and intelligentsia is because he never was a standout for the Spanish National team. Remember, he was stuck behind Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets (to a lesser extent). On his day, he was roughly their equal, and in Xavi’s later days (Xavi is 4 years older than Cazorla), Santi was probably better. I’m sure the Barcelona / Real Madrid stranglehold on national team places had something to do with it, too. And not playing club football in Spain probably hurt Cazorla.
In fact, I don’t think that most Arsenal supporters properly rated Santi even while he was at the club. I loved watching him play and thought he was quite good, but I don’t think even I realized how vitally important he was to the club until he was injured / had moved on. He single-handedly made Mad Franky Coquelin look like a competent midfield, mostly by dragging their pairing along himself. He was one of the best creative midfielders in the Premier League until he got hurt, but you wouldn’t have known it from The Discourse.
Today’s CF inspired / brought to you by @Arsenal tweeting Cazorla against Manchester City highlights from seven years ago.