Santi Cazorla is hopeful of playing football again next year provided he has no more setbacks. It’s a blow for Arsenal given his absence could now stretch to more than two years.

Cazorla has been absent with injury since October 2016 but he remains optimistic about playing again. The Spaniard had to have yet another operation – his ninth altogether – in November, with the player admitting he had start from scratch.

Despite all the set-backs, he said he could be playing at the top level again next year.

“There have been moments when I’ve thought about throwing in the towel. I’ve thought things like ‘maybe it is not worth continuing,” he said, as reported by Tribal Football. “If things go well, maybe next year I can play at the top level again.”

Santi Cazorla’s ankle. Picture: Pablo GarcĂ­a/MARCA

Whether Cazorla means next year or next season is uncertain, but just playing football again would be a minor miracle for him. Currently, Cazorla must recover to the point he can start running and building up fitness again.

After that, he’ll have to return to training and build-up match sharpness. The playmaker seemed to be making decent progress before his most recent operation. The problems all stemmed from an infection after an operation on his achilles.

The wound failed to heal, and the resulting infection ate away eight centimetres of his achilles tendon. It’s impossible to put any timeframe on Santi’s return from injury. Some say he’ll be lucky to even play football again.

What’s clear is that he’s determined to come back, and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed he does.