Wednesday 21 August 2019

Cazorla targets January return from 'worst injury' Wenger has seen

Santi Cazorla, right, has not played for Arsenal since the win over Ludogorets in October 2016
Santi Cazorla, right, has not played for Arsenal since the win over Ludogorets in October 2016

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Arsene Wenger admitted that Santi Cazorla's lengthy foot injury is the "worst he has known" in his long career in football.

Cazorla has not played for Arsenal for more than a year - since October 19, 2016 - after requiring a series of operations following repeated complications. What was initially Achilles pain led his foot being under threat of amputation, requiring a skin graft from his arm and reconstructive surgery on a missing part of his Achilles tendon.

It has been a traumatic year for Cazorla and there is no guarantee he will get back to being the player he was before. Wenger was asked at his press conference yesterday whether he would play again, and did not sound confident. Wenger added it was a particular shame for Cazorla to be injured for so long given how much the Spanish midfielder loves playing football.

"It is the worst injury I have known," Wenger admitted. "Starting with a pain in the Achilles, and it has gone from worse to worse. I must say I know how much Santi loves to play football and loves to be out there every day. I feel very sorry for what happened to him, because it is unbelievable."

Cazorla is trying to get involved in training again and would like to return in January, and Wenger would love him to. "I wish," Wenger said, when asked about Cazorla coming back in the New Year. Wenger said he is not in regular dialogue with the midfielder, who is not near being ready to play again.

"I saw him one month ago, he was here, and I told him to prepare as well as he can," Wenger said. "He has competent medical people around him and he tries to practise, but I have not spoken to him recently. I hope he comes back. I left him out of the squad, hoping he would be available in January."

Asked whether there was a chance Cazorla would never play again, Wenger could not deny it. "Let's not talk about that, but I hope you are wrong," he said.

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 inflamed for weeks with little sign of recovery. But that did not solve the problem, only setting the stage for a series of further operations.

The focus behind the scenes at the club has been on the future of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, with an increasing acceptance from Arsenal that neither of the pair - who are out of contract next summer - will re-sign.

Sanchez is the more likely to leave in January, with an enduring interest from Manchester City in signing him.

There has been no offer for Jack Wilshere, also out of contract in the summer, nor has the former England midfielder been approached for discussions over his future.

Independent News Service

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