Cazorla has been troubled by an achilles injury since last season, and with no date set on his return, his future is looking increasingly bleak.
There’s something of an injury curse at Arsenal. Not only do players pick up injuries frequently, they pick up odd, obscure injuries that take a lot of time to heal.
Back in 2008, Tomas Rosicky experienced such a problem in a 3-0 victory over Fulham. He damaged his hamstring tendon and was initially set to miss a few weeks.
Weeks then turned into months, and months turned into a whole year as Rosicky struggled to deal with inflammation. He didn’t return until the 2009-10 season, and would see the rest of his Arsenal career blighted by injuries.
There are some worrying similarities with Santi Cazorla. Back in October 2016 against Ludogorets, Cazorla was forced off with an achilles problem that had troubled him throughout the year.
He would have surgery in December and was expected to be back in March. Recovery took longer than expected, and he missed the rest of the season. The problem? An inflamed tendon.
Next October was pencilled in as a hopeful return date, but that’s since been scrapped as his injury isn’t healing as expected.
There’s an incredible amount of uncertainty around an injury like this, and it takes enormous will to keep believing that you can come back and play again. Cazorla certainly isn’t considering retirement. Even at 32, he wants to play again.
Should he make a successful recovery, Arsenal would welcome him back with open arms. Arsene Wenger has always shown tremendous loyalty to injured players and will have a place in the squad in mind for him.
He remains one of the most talented players at the club, and is a joy to watch when on form. Injury won’t have hampered his technique or creativity, and he’d be able to slot straight back into our midfield.
But where the mind is willing, the body may not be. Players aren’t the same after long-term injuries, especially complicated ones. He’d likely not be able to play two games in a week any more, and would have to managed carefully.
Niggly, two-three week injuries would be expected, and would prevent him from settling into any sort of form.
The unfortunate consequence could be that Cazorla’s days as an undisputed starter in the Arsenal team are over. That doesn’t mean he can’t come back and make a difference, however, as Tomas Rosicky proved.
Rosicky took a while to find his form again but when he did, he became a reliable squad player. He shone in cup matches changed games from the bench. Off the pitch, his experience was a big help too.
Cazorla is a jovial character and a very popular member of the Arsenal dressing room. Even if he wouldn’t be playing, he’d have a big role off the pitch.
In the meantime, every Arsenal fan will be hoping to see Cazorla fit and healthy again so that he can return to the pitch and continue to leave his opposition chasing shadows.