I feel quite a bit sad that Santi is leaving The Arsenal. You only have to close your eyes and think of that tiny little Spaniard smiling to make yourself smile. Go ahead, take a second and do it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Yesterday former Villarreal star Marco Senna confirmed that Villarreal were looking to take back Santi on a free transfer and that Arsenal were not renewing his deal.

We’ve all heard former players speculate over new signings before, but it was a pretty unequivocal statement and you don’t usually get that unless the players know it for sure, so I suspect this is pretty much a done deal. But whilst I’m sad that we won’t get to see him again grace the English game as an Arsenal player, it’s very difficult to argue that it wasn’t the best decision for all, ultimately.

I’ve always felt that Santi was a player that would go back to Spain at some stage and I’ve always thought that he would prefer to have one last crack at the Spanish top flight and for a team like Villarreal – where he has some roots and history – it makes sense that they would want to gamble on that tiny little Spaniard of ours.

For us it makes sense too. He’s had injury problems, the English game is more rough and tumble and demands more physicality on the body, plus we have a new era and probably need to offload a few players to make way for the new manager, his new ideas and inevitably, new players he wants.

We’ve often accused ourselves as Arsenal fans of sentimentality and we’ve certainly accused Arsène and the club of it in the past with the likes of Diaby being given contract after contract, so it seems a little hypocritical to now be thinking about keeping on a player who is the wrong side of 30 and would still command a high salary, yet we don’t know how many games we would get from him, so like I say I think this is best for everyone involved.

I remember the first time I saw him in the flesh at the beginning of his first season. We smashed Southampton 6-1 and one of the Southampton players booted the ball so high into the Emirates skyline that it felt like we were waiting for five minutes for it to come down. Sure enough it did though and it came down by Santi who promptly stunned the ball dead, then used those two twinkle toes of his to evade two Southampton players and send us on an attack. An innocuous moment in the end, but a moment that summed up him, because in right spaces and with two awesome feet, he was a god.

His finishing wasn’t always amazing but he still gave us enough to remember him as a great player and he scored some important goals. Ones that spring to mind more than anything else are that beautiful counter attacking goal in one of the 5-2s over the Tiny Totts, as well as getting the comeback started in the FA Cup final against Hull with a brilliant free kick.

A quick interlude – let’s all have a chuckle at Jose losing yesterday’s final. I hate Chelski, but I hate Jose more and also seeing Alexis unhappy and Olivier Giroud smiling with the cup makes for better viewing than the other way around methinks.

What Santi’s departure does do is leave us with a big creative gap in that midfield and if Ramsey does go because of the contract situation, the whole Seri rumours make a little more sense. Losing Santi and Ramsey this season and with Jack still not confirmed as signed up means we have space to fill and that can be done by signing a player as well as giving the likes of Maitland-Niles and Willock a shout. So despite what I said yesterday I guess it does make sense. Personally though I’d be using the kitty to buy a ‘keeper and another right back to understudy Bellerin, as well as another top draw centre half, before I look at our midfield. It still needs to be addressed and perhaps it’s more that the conversation with Nice is easier because relationships have been forged by Sanllehi when he was at Barca and interested in Seri.

Whatever the nuances are though, we need to see some movement and it would be nice to be getting this sorted sooner rather than later. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a team in place and ready for the new season before pre season is even properly underway, eh?

We can certainly hope for that, especially now that half of our first team squad won’t even be at the World Cup. Bellerin, Nacho, Mustafi, Mavropanos, Chambers, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, etc. It’s a sizeable list and hopefully means preparation with the new manager can start early.

Let’s hope we can stay to feel the excitement soon.

Catch you all tomorrow