Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla could be absent for the rest of the year, with manager Arsene Wenger admitting he’s unsure the Spaniard “will play again in 2018”.
The 33-year-old has been out with an ankle injury since October 2016, picking up the problem in a Champions League meeting with FC Ludogorets. Fan-favourite Cazorla has since undergone 10 surgeries to correct the issue, but he continues to suffer setbacks on the road to recovery.
An interview with Marca in 2017 revealed that he almost had his foot amputated after so many operations and a subsequent infection. Cazorla was meant to have returned by now, having previously been on crutches and starting to walk again, but Wenger’s update is bad news for his chances.
“He was expected to be back in now. He had a new surgery. I am not informed about his medical situation. I wished him well about two weeks ago but he hasn’t come back yet,” the Arsenal boss admitted.
“Medical people know better than I do if he will play again in 2018. It will be hard for him. We love him and he is a great footballer but you need to be right to play at the intensity of the Premier League.”
Signed from Malaga in 2012, the beloved Spanish playmaker has made 180 appearances for Arsenal, and there are now genuine fears he may not add to that total.
His last game for the club was 15 months ago, and with his contract up in the summer, Cazorla could call time on his playing career if the injury problems continue.
Having extended his deal for 12 months despite his ongoing setbacks last year, Wenger was asked whether Arsenal would consider a repeat for Cazorla this time.
“It depends on his medical availability at the top level. If he is fit, yes. If he isn’t, then we have to see,” he responded.