According to Spanish outlet El Confidencial, Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla wants to stay at the club, but the Gunners are consider whether or not to extend his deal for another year given he’s spent the last 18 months sidelined with injury.
The 33-year-old last played for Arsenal against FC Ludogorets in the Champions League on October 2016. He was hauled off before the hour mark with an achilles injury and hasn’t played a competitive game since. Cazorla has suffered setback after setback in the year-and-a-half that’s followed, and his career may be cut short as a result.
Arsenal signed the deep-lying playmaker on a five-year-deal from Malaga in 2012 and he’s gone on to make 180 appearances in all competitions, scoring and creating 74 goals. The diminutive midfielder has made 78 caps for Spain but last represented La Rojo on November 2015 against England.
In November 2017, Cazorla was revealed to have had a skin graft on his foot after contracting gangrene and a blood infection, which almost resulted in him having his foot amputated. He’s had 10 operations on the ankle and doesn’t look any closer to returning. Cazorla has been told he’ll never be able to play football again but he’s not giving up on making a return yet.
His absence has cost Arsenal dearly, as he once formed an impressive midfield partnership alongside Francis Coquelin. Cazorla would retain possession and provide the creativity while the Frenchman was the combative player who turned over possession and nullified the threat of the opposition.
Arsenal haven’t found a replacement on Cazorla’s level ever since, with Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere struggling for consistency, but the Gunners will have to decide whether they will retain the hopeful Spaniard for another year or release him at the end of his contract this summer.
In January, the midfielder revealed to RTVE that he planned to return in 2019, saying: “There have been moments when I’ve thought about throwing in the towel. I’ve thought things like ‘maybe it is not worth continuing’.
“If things go well, maybe next year I can play at the top level again. The last surgery was seven weeks ago, and my tenth in total. The first surgery was risky because I took many corticosteroids and the skin deteriorated.
“Then a skin graft was proposed and after that, the infection ate my tendon.”
Cazorla was offered a one-year extension by Arsenal in January 2017 to continue his rehabilitation with a club he’d spent five years at, but they may not hand him another 12-month deal this summer.
Prior to the actual achilles injury in 2016, the Telegraph revealed the 33-year-old was dealing with pain for years before having surgery. He could have damaged the tendons by continuing to play on an injured achilles, further changing the structure, and needed to ‘regain the capacity of the tendon to store and release energy for explosive movement.’
Cazorla’s infection saw him lose eight centimetres of tendon so there was a lot of work needed in surgery to have him in a position to return. It’s been 18 months and the Spaniard has played down a return until 2019, so will fans ever see him back in an Arsenal shirt?