Arsène Wenger thinks that Santi Cazorla’s Achilles injury is the worst he’s seen, but he is holding out hope for a return to football for the midfielder.

Cazorla fell injured last year, and a number of complications (including an infection eating his Achilles tendon requiring a skin graft from his arm) have continued to keep him out. Arsène Wenger was asked about the Spaniard’s progress in his press conference before the North London derby, and told reporters: “It is the worst injury.

“It started 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 and I feel very sorry for what happened to him, because it is unbelievable.

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

When asked by one reporter whether Santi would ever return to football, presenting the possibility that the player could never fully recover, Wenger said: “Let’s not talk about that, but I hope you are wrong.”

I think most of us hope that rumours of an early retirement have been exaggerated. As Arsène said back in 2012: “If you love football, just watch him play – it’s a delight to watch him.”

Cazorla joined the Gunners during a very difficult period, as their trophy drought grew longer and longer and Robin van Persie became the latest key player to depart. Santi then became an integral part of the team, and crucially scored the free-kick against Hull, which got the team back in the game in the FA Cup final and finally brought the club another trophy in 2014.

Since he’s been injured, the team have rarely looked the same. Xhaka, Cazorla and Özil looked fantastic in the couple of games they played together, and it should’ve been an exciting new era for the club, but instead Cazorla’s injuries mean we’ll never know how things could have been that season. Hopefully we’ll see the little magician again in January.