Arsenal have been without Santi Cazorla for over 12 months but if you think it’s been long for us as fans, you should hear how it’s been for our midfield maestro.

Cazorla was out for 45 days in 2015/16 with Achilles irritation, which subsided enough to allow him to play in April 2016.

The midfielder played just 11 times in 2016/17 before picking up the Achilles problem that has severely impacted the later stages of his career.

The 32-year-old (31 at the time) limped off in the 57th minute during Arsenal’s 6-0 Champions League win over Ludogorets in October 2016. The Spaniard was seen icing his ankle on the bench and Arsene Wenger seemed convinced that it was just a knock.

However, whenever the boss was pressed about how Cazorla was getting on after that, the answers got more and more vague. He then gave up on trying to guess when the midfielder would return.

In December, it was finally announced that Cazorla would travel to Sweden to undergo surgery on his Achilles.

A month later, Wenger confirmed that the Spaniard had undergone another ‘procedure’, which we would later find out was at attempt to fix the wound on his ankle from the first operation. It was having trouble healing and Cazorla would eventually need a skin graft.

Soon after, Wenger revealed that Cazorla wouldn’t return at all during the 2016/17 season. Later reports claimed he wouldn’t be in training until October and others said he would miss the beginning of 2017/18. Which he has.

(Pablo García / MARCA)

In a recent interview with Marca, Cazorla revealed that, after the skin graft, he had in fact contracted gangrene on top of everything else and lost eight centimetres from his Achilles.

The midfielder also shared some pretty graphic photos from his ordeal.

Wenger has given up trying to predict a return date, even though the problems appear to subsided. It gradually keeps getting pushed back. The latest was that it would be after Christmas some time, although many are beginning to question whether he’ll play for Arsenal again.

The latest update from the boss is that the club wishes him well, which doesn’t exactly sound encouraging but at least our little Spaniard is still smiling away.

“I have been in touch with Santi throughout his rehab, and it has been extremely tough and testing for him,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

“If there is one guy who loves football passionately, loves to be on the pitch, and comes in with a smile every day when he is fit, it’s Santi Cazorla, so you know he suffers a lot not to be out there with the ball at his feet.
  
“He is extremely strong and brave, and behind his smile is a strength you would not guess. He is a very strong character, and everyone at Arsenal wishes him well and we hope to have him back soon.”

We miss you, Santi.