Former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla may be granted the chance to bid a proper farewell to the club’s fans, some two years after he left the Emirates Stadium.
The diminutive Spaniard saw his career in north London ruined by a catalogue of injury problems, namely a horrifying – and at one time, career threatening – achilles tendon problem.
Prior to his enforced absence, Cazorla was a huge fan favourite at Arsenal, making 180 appearances over a six-year period, scoring 29 goals. But his final appearance came way back in October 2016 during a Champions League tie with Bulgarian champions Ludogorets, with his achilles injury ruining any potential send off.
Now, football.london report that Arsenal are interested in offering the silky Spaniard a chance to say a proper goodbye to the club; something that Cazorla was unable to do when he departed in the summer of 2018.
The details of how 35-year-old Cazorla – who is now successfully strutting around La Liga with Villarreal and is back in Spain’s national team setup – could return is unclear, but it’s thought a pre-season friendly may be the most suitable solution; despite previous remarks from the playmaker that suggested he wanted to wear Arsenal colours once more.
“I don’t know if it’s possible or not, but I want to play one more game for Arsenal before I retire,” Cazorla told Goal. “It was a deep regret that I could never have a proper goodbye.
“Arsenal was the biggest club I ever played for. I’m proud that I was an Arsenal player. I’m especially grateful for Arsenal fans who supported me even after I left the club. I wish I can be part of the Gunners family in the future again.”
Cazorla’s return to the very top of the game is all the more remarkable when you consider what he went through during the final two years of his career at Arsenal. A bacterial infection, which ate away 10cm of the tendon itself, caused an unthinkable amount of pain to the Spaniard, often leading to sleepless and tearful nights.
Recalling the harrowing experience in a prior interview with The Guardian, Cazorla said: “I’d got tired – I’d gone through two or three months of operations. I went to Vitoria the next day and that’s when they found the bacteria – two in the tendon and another in the bone.
“They didn’t know how much of the tendon the infection had eaten. Mikel [surgeon Mikel Sanchez] said: ‘I’m going to have to open you up until I find the tendon.’ They told me they’d have to open, open, open, open and when they did, they saw I had lost 10cm.
“I’d been lucky, they said, it could have been more. When he had to rebuild the tendon, he realised how bad a condition the bone was in. He could put his finger in it. It was like Plasticine. That’s even more dangerous.”
Those troubles are now in the rear view mirror, and thanks largely to Cazorla’s agent having a close relationship with head of football relations, Raul Sanllehi, a return to the Emirates in some capacity may be in the offing – be it in a friendly, a testimonial or just visiting as a fan.