Rarely are players missed as much as Santi Cazorla is at Arsenal. Without him, an integral part of the creative midfield machine has been absent, resulting in the gunners inability to play in the traditional Arsenal style.
It seems the club have no one of the same quality as the dynamic Spaniard and they will eventually have to go to great lengths to replace the one player they couldn’t and still can’t do without. As transfer fees go, the £10m Arsenal paid Malaga was nothing short of theft.
Since his departure and re-employment, I’m sure I’m not alone in checking out his progress at his current club, Villarreal this season.
As I did, I recalled his absolute and undeniable class in a red and white shirt. I recalled his energy, his vision and his exquisite touch which are now gracing La Liga instead of North London.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) May 17, 2019
But, let’s rewind this astonishing story that has resulted in a call up to the national side after so much misery.
Cazorla missed 18 months of his football career after an horrendous Achilles injury that required several operations. He had a severe infections which turned into gangrene and it nearly cost him his foot.
Operation and recuperation were very much part of everyday life for Cazorla. It was an injury in which he lost an unbelievable eight centimetres of his tendon and placed his career at the brink.
Arsenal extended his contract by a year while he was absent but when the chance to extend that came around, Arsenal pulled the plug. The medical assessment at the time indicated that he wouldn’t be able to compete at the top level again and taking into account the midfielders age, he was released.
Whoever made that assessment is now looking incredibly stupid because Cazorla came back with a vengeance and has since made 45 appearances in all competitions for Villarreal, scoring seven goals and delivering 11 assists, not bad for someone who’s career was over.
He featured in one of the most exciting games in La Liga in April’s 4-4 draw with Barcelona and because of his exceptional performances and key contributions, he’s been called up to the provisional Spanish national squad, the first time since 2015
When Cazorla heard about his national team call up, he apparently cried and no wonder. He has gone from being a potential amputee, to a cast off, to hero, to the Spanish squad. What a phenomenal turn around in fortune and totally deserved.
I’ve been an Arsenal supporter for many years and you don’t get to see that many special players in a lifetime but I have been lucky enough to see more than my fair share and along with the Bergkamp’s and Henry’s you can add the name of Cazorla.
Not out of sentiment but on pure skill and merit, because Cazorla could have been in the same side as both, he could have been in any of Wenger’s top sides including the Invincible’s.
He was and is a top, top player and the most positive, inspiring human being in football, overcoming injury and misfortune.
In all the time he was injured, he never once believed he wouldn’t grace the football field again and he never gave up or felt sorry for himself at any point.
I hope his resurgence continues and Cazorla features for Spain in the way he always should have when he played well for Arsenal yet was constantly overlooked.