Santi Cazorla has opened up on the injury that eventually ended his Arsenal career in a recent interview, and it leaves you wondering what might’ve been for the Spaniard.
Speaking in Saturday’s Daily Mail, Cazorla admitted his injury problems began all the way back in a friendly between Chile and Spain in 2013. He cracked a bone in his ankle in the first 20 minutes, but decided to play on for the remainder of the clash.
After returning to Arsenal, the medical team told him to rest, but the midfielder refused.
“I resisted a little bit,” he said. “I just thought that it was an ankle knock, nothing more, put a bandage on it and stopped for a few days. But time passed and instead of getting better it got worse. The half-time break would kill me because the ankle would get cold. I would be crippled for the first 15 minutes of the second half.
“It went on like this with lots of pain until the game against Ludogorets in October 2016 when I was in tears. I have a high pain threshold but it had become too much. I had to stop.”
After that, most of us know what happened next. Surgeries, bacterial infections, constant setbacks, rebuilt tendons and skin grafts. Eventually, Arsenal decided to let him go, right as he was returning to fitness. Instead the midfielder went to Villarreal, where he’s made three consecutive starts.
— Dan Critchlow (@afcDW) August 27, 2018
It all makes you wonder what could’ve happened if the various club, national and third-party doctors had recognised the severity of the problem from the outset. Cazorla essentially carried his initial injury for three years, during which time he was nonetheless one of the best players at Arsenal.
Once the medical teams missed the bone crack though, it snowballed with various other issues, and inevitably after that it was always going to cause major problems. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to diagnose a problem if the player tells you he feels fine.
How differently the last five years could have gone if Cazorla just taken some time off to deal with that ‘knock’.