Arsenal are considering offering Santi Cazorla a new contract even though it seems unlikely the Spaniard will ever be able to play at the top level again.

Speaking at his pre-West Ham press conference, Arsene Wenger told the assembled reporters that the club plans to assess Santi’s recovery to determine if he will be able to play at the required level.

If they decide he can, he will be offered a new contract which is a no-brainer.

A fit Santi Cazorla is a player who transforms this Arsenal side.

However, as amazing as it would be to see the Spaniard take to the field for Arsenal again, it seems incredibly unlikely that Cazorla will recover properly.

When we spoke to a top sports surgeon, who specialises in adult reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, sports foot & ankle surgery’, late last year, he explained that given the amount of trauma to the area, it’s unlikely that Santi will be able to play football at the top level again.

And this was before the Spaniard had even more surgery on his ankle.

Mr. James Walsh, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

“Given the multiple surgeries required, the significance of the subsequent injury and the level at which he’s is required to perform at, it’s hard not to be pessimistic about his chances of returning to an elite level of professional sport,” said Mr James Walsh, who was at pains to stress he has not treated Cazorla personally and was merely commenting on the information made publicly available.

“A recent study from the American Journal of Sports Medicine quoted a 60% chance of return to professional sport following repair and these would have been far less significant injuries.

“In a basketball setting, athletes are far less likely to be accidentally kicked in the calf during a game.

“The loss of this much Achilles tendon and the likely reconstruction required would make it unlikely – though of course not impossible – that a player would be able to return to elite level football.”

He added: “Overall, this is a highly unusual and unfortunate complication and it shows that despite access to the best surgical and rehabilitation care, along with a compliant, highly motivated and physically fit patient, rare and severe complications can occur.

“The odds would seem to be against him, but never say never…”

10 players who could replace Santi Cazorla

by Dan Critchlow

Painful as it is to say, Santi Cazorla seems increasingly unlikely to ever return to the pitch for Arsenal, so it’s important for the club to look for a replacement this summer.

Thanks to just how long Cazorla has been on the sidelines, the club have had a lot of time to look for a replacement. Although they haven’t signed any of their targets so far, we know at least some of the players they’re considering through reports in the media.

Here are 10 of them:

Max Meyer

Max Meyer (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Meyer has often been linked with a move to Arsenal and regularly tipped to replace Santi Cazorla. Recently, according to Bild, the Schalke midfielder rejected the chance to sign a contract extension in Germany.

The 22-year-old has until the end of the season to change his mind but, with the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool reportedly banging on the door, the youngster could choose to move on.

The 22-year-old’s technical ability and style of play are remarkably similar to the little Spaniard‘s. The midfielder is talented and if Arsenal can get him on a free, they could have paid nothing for a real player for the future.

Meyer has been at Schalke since 2009 so I’m sure he won’t take any decision lightly.

Pablo Fornals

VALENCIA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 04: Pablo Fornals of Malaga CF celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and Malaga CF at Mestalla stadium on December 4, 2016 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Fornals is a rising star in Spain and the 22-year-old is comfortable playing in a deeper role in midfielder or further up the pitch in the number 10 role.

An established first team regular with Malaga before paying his own release clause of £10m to join Villarreal, he has four goals and nine assists this season in 41 games.

Fornals is one of the few young names that come to mind when you think of a direct replacement for our Spanish magician.

His stats this season may not suggest an eye for goal, but he certainly has one and when combined with his direct running, ability to play as a 6, 8 or 10 it’s not hard to see why he has already been given his full senior Spain debut.

He is under contract until 2022 so he won’t come cheap and it’s unlikely he will switch again just one summer after already moving back to the club where his career started but Arsenal should certainly consider making a move.

Marco Verratti

FLORENCE, ITALY - MARCH 20: Marco Verratti of Italy looks on prior to the training session at the club's training ground at Coverciano on March 20, 2017 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

25 and needing no introduction, Verratti is a Rolls Royce player that would fit in at Arsenal seamlessly.

The current Paris Saint-Germain midfielder had a rather underwhelming season last campaign at PSG with Unai Emery unconvinced by his performances, leading to a lot of speculation in the summer.

Veratti stated his desire to stay and fight for his place in the team and he’s done just that with 38 appearances this season, totalling 2,994 minutes.

The 25-year-old Italy international is seen as one of the best deep playmakers and could be a perfect replacement for Cazorla.

The Italian has plenty of experience and he could adapt well to Arsenal’s style.

Under contract until 2021, he would not come cheap with his current market value said to be £63m – a figure that doesn’t take into consideration how inflated fees are these days.

Vincent Koziello

France’s under 21 national football team midfielder Vincent Koziello poses on August 30, 2016 in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, near Paris. / AFP / FRANCK FIFE

Arsenal were first linked with a move for Koziello back in 2016 when Le10Sport said Arsene Wenger was interested in the then-Nice midfielder.

For whatever reason, the club didn’t make a move for the then 20-year-old and he remained at Nice until signing for FC Koln in the January window for £2.7m with just six months left on his Nice deal.

Still only 22, the right-footed central midfielder, who can also play as a defensive midfielder, may not be keen on moving just a few months after heading to Germany, but it could be a nice chance for his club to make a tidy profit for not much work.

He has little experience at the top level but certainly would have been worth a punt before he sign for FC Koln.

Whether Arsenal could justify spending a much higher fee on him now that he’s under contract until 2022, however, is much harder to determine.

Sergi Samper

Sergi Samper
AFP / OLI SCARFF

23-year-old Barcelona midfielder, Sergi Samper, claims that he turned down the chance to come to Arsenal when Arsene Wenger approached him in the summer of 2016.

Samper even claimed that he didn’t want to listen to Wenger, as he had his heart set on making it at Barcelona.

“I did not want to listen to [Arsene] Wenger,” Samper said“I told him clearly that I wanted to stay, I wanted to succeed at Barcelona, and what would make me happy was succeeding at Barcelona in the future.”

Arsenal have long been linked with the midfielder and this summer Barcelona may see it as their last chance  to cash in on the player.

Samper hasn’t come by regular opportunities at Camp Nou and it doesn’t look like he will in the near future. That happens when Sergio Busquets plays in your position.

Samper had a £9m release clause in his last contract but he signed a new one in the summer of 2016, tying him to the club until 2019.

Arsenal showed the midfielder around London Colney along with Jon Toral and Héctor Bellerín. While the other two signed for the club, Samper stayed in Spain to chase his dream of becoming a Barcelona regular.

Now, years on, Bellerín is playing every week at the Emirates Stadium and Samper, seen as an apt replacement for Mikel Arteta in 2016, has played just 342 minutes this season for Barca.

Luka Modric

Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric runs with the ball during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 10, 2018. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
(GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

According to Diario Gol, who aren’t the most reliable source, Modric has informed his ‘close circle’ that he’s leaving Real Madrid in the summer, along with Gareth Bale.

The same publication also recently claimed that Modric was seeking a ‘fresh start’ and would supposedly prefer a return to Tottenham or move to Arsenal over Liverpool. Quite how a ‘return to Tottenham’ and ‘fresh start’ can be the same thing is not clear.

The 32-year-old, who signed for Real Madrid from Spurs in 2012, isn’t in the best form this season and Los Blancos are therefore, reportedly, also willing to offload him in the summer.

The attacking midfielder, who was superb during his four years in the Premier League, has made a total of 250 appearances for Real during his time in the Spanish capital. This season, he’s made just 19 La Liga starts.

With two-and-a-half years left on his contract in Spain, it’s unclear how much Real would want for Modric. Transfermarkt value him at €40m (£36m) – despite his age.

While the Express insist that Modric’s Spurs past won’t hamper his chances of signing for Arsenal, I’m sure it would at least make him think twice.

Wylan Cyprien

Nice's French midfielder Wylan Cyprien celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match Dijon (DFCO) against OGC Nice on March 4, 2017 at the Gaston-Gerard Stadium in Dijon, central eastern France. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES
AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES

If you want to show that you’ll fit in at Arsenal, one of the best ways to do that is pick up a serious injury and that’s exactly what Nice star, Wylan Cyprien, did when he was first linked with Arsenal last year.

Until that point, Cyprien was the standout star of the season for the Ligue 1 side and was named as one of the ‘hottest prospects in the French top tier.’

A young, French, relatively unknown attacking midfielder with a serious injury – how was that not the most perfect Arsene Wenger signing ever invented?

That knee injury kept him out of the side for 265 days, missing 34 games. He only returned at the start of December.

A central midfielder who can also play as a 10 or a 4, Cyprien, described by some as a ‘box-to-box maestro’ has scored two goals and assisted two in the 11 league games he’s played since his return and the 23-year-old doesn’t appear to be showing any long-term effects of his injury.

Under contract until 2021, he would not be an expensive option for Arsenal

Miralem Pjanic

TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 22: Miralem Pjanic of Juventus looks on during the Serie A match between Juventus and Genoa CFC on January 22, 2018 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Pjanic was first mentioned as a possible Santi Cazorla replacement last summer and the player recently admitted to already turning Arsenal down.

Pjanic was a highly promising midfielder at Lyon when Arsenal were interested in signing him.

He never made the switch to the Premier League, and, instead, opted to play for Roma in Italy.

After five strong seasons in Rome, he was signed by Juventus.

Speaking to the Telegraph on the eve of Juventus’ Champions League tie with Tottenham, the Bosnian revealed the interest in him from the Premier League.

“You want to know the names?” he said. “They were Arsenal and Tottenham.”

It’s likely that Pjanic saw he would be competing with Cesc Fabregas for game time at Arsenal and thought he would struggle for consistent minutes.

He would have made a fine replacement for Fabregas, but by the time the Spaniard’s move to Barcelona was confirmed, Pjanic had already been signed by Roma.

He’s shown what Arsenal have missed out on by becoming a key part of Juventus’ midfield.

The midfielder also had the chance to replace Luka Modric at Tottenham, but decided to stay in Italy.

“There was the opportunity but at that moment I told them I was happy where I was and that’s why we didn’t sign the deal,” he explained.

“But I made my choice using my head and if I made that choice not to go to an English team it was for good reasons.”

Arsenal also reportedly tried to sign him after he moved to Italy with beIN Sports claiming that Arsenal contacted Juventus about the midfielder, signalling they were willing to pay £35m for the player than cost them £28.8m from Roma who got him for an absolute steal from Lyon (£9.9m).

Now 28, Pjanic is under contract until 2021 with Juventus.

Jean-Michael Seri

Jean-Michaël Seri in the Ivory Coast national team.

Over the summer, Seri was the only player who came close to Monaco’s Thomas Lemar in terms of Arsenal media speculation.

The Gunners seemed to want a midfielder, with Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere out injured, and the Ivorian was the clear favourite. Nothing went through at the time, but fans expected the club to go back in January.

They didn’t.

In a way, you’d expect the Gunners to want a new midfielder more than ever. They’ve sold Francis Coquelin to Valencia while Santi Cazorla is injured and won’t be back until 2019. Mohamed Elneny, for all his enthusiasm, only looks like a squad option at best.

Perhaps Arsenal have lost interest because Seri hasn’t been able to replicate his 2016/17 form. Last season, the Nice man scored seven goals and assisted 10 from midfield. This campaign, he has one goal and seven assists.

Maybe the Gunners also want someone stronger defensively. Whoscored list aerial duels, concentration and tackling as Seri’s three weaknesses statistically, which sounds like every midfielder already playing for Arsenal.

Arsenal were certainly extremely interested in Seri but what has happened to this interest is hard to say at this point.

Oguzhan Ozyakup

(Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal made an offer for Oguzhan Ozyakup in January, and want to re-sign their former player in the summer if Jack Wilshere leaves, according to reports in Turkey.

Gunes write that Arsenal bid €7m for the midfielder in January, but Besiktas wouldn’t settle for less than €12m.

As Ozyakup’s contract expires at the end of the season, you can understand why Arsene Wenger might not be willing to pay that much for a player he could get for free in a few months.

Arsenal also have a 30% sell on clause in Ozyakup’s current contract with Besiktas so realistically, the Super Lig club didn’t have much leverage to work with in January.

The Turkish report also claimed Jack Wilshere wants to leave this summer, which is looking more and more likely as the weeks drag on without an agreement over his new contract. They say the 26-year-old “wants to continue his football life in Spain”, and give that as the reason for Arsenal’s interest in Ozyakup.

I’m not sure why Wilshere would want to leave Arsenal (or England). He has a family here in England, a fanbase that loves him and a manager with faith in him. The only real sticking point is his wages. Still, I’m not certain he’d earn much more in Spain.

The 25-year-old, who played for Arsenal’s reserves, moved to Besiktas in 2012 for £450k.

This season, he has seven assists in 32 games across all competitions.

Oguzhan is very gifted player technically and, when deployed as an attacking midfielder, Besiktas look very dangerous going forward.

His movement is excellent and he attacks the space between the defensive lines brilliantly. His passing and movement often dictate the tempo of Besiktas’ play and the midfielder is a great influence on the whole team.

Ozyakup’s influence on the attack is best seen by his number of created chances and key passes. Per-game, Ozyakup makes 1.5 key passes and creates 1.72 scoring chances. His passing success rate is a decent 85% and the player attempts an average of 57.1 passes per-game.

He can be deployed in all central midfield positions, but he performs best when given enough freedom to go forward.