The Spanish midfielder has not played for Arsenal since 19 October 2016 but had been trying to return to training in January so that he could still play a part in the season.
But this week the news has emerged that Cazorla will in fact need a ninth operation, as he still feels discomfort in the Achilles tendon. That will further delay his comeback to the first team, throwing into doubt his return this season, at the end of which his Arsenal contract expires.
After Arsenal’s 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town last night, Wenger spoke with sadness about the “big blow” Cazorla and Arsenal had suffered. “That is for me disastrous, the sad news of the day,” Wenger said. “I feel really sorry for Santi. He is a guy I admire, that we all love here, who came into training every day with a smile because he loved so much the game.”
Wenger said that the team continue to miss him – he was their best midfielder before he broke down – but that the personal toll on Cazorla was even harder. “For him not to be available for us, it is a big blow,” he said. “But for him, as well, it is something that is difficult to take and I hope despite what happened today [I hope he will be alright].”
Wenger did not know when Cazorla will return to first-team training. “I don’t know exactly when he will return,” he said. “I have been informed medically but I have not read any report. I hope he will be alright and back with us in January.”
Even before Wednesday’s news, Wenger said that Cazorla’s lengthy foot injury was “the worst he has known in football”. What was initially Achilles pain led his foot being under threat of amputation due to gangrene, requiring a skin graft from his arm and reconstructive surgery on a missing part of his Achilles tendon.
Cazorla first felt pain in his Achilles in October 2016 and when it did not go away, he went to Sweden in early December for surgery on the plantaris tendon in his right foot, which had been inflammed for weeks with little sign of recovery. But that did not solve the problem, only setting the stage for a series of further operations.
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