Santi Cazorla has confirmed he wanted to stay at Arsenal this season, but the club weren’t willing to wait and see whether he could get fit enough to play.
In an interview with The Guardian, Cazorla revealed all about his injury and recovery. He explained how Arsene Wenger activated the option to extend the midfielder’s contract, so he could focus on his rehabilitation, and how he hoped to stick around with the Gunners when he finally did get healthy. Unfortunately, Arsenal weren’t so keen anymore.
“No, they didn’t want to,” Cazorla said. “They were very good, very honest. My idea was to do at Arsenal what I eventually did here. I knew whoever was going to sign me would have to see me first: nobody just gives you a contract.
“Pre-season with Arsenal, let them see me, then we all decide. But they couldn’t wait to finalise the squad. They said they’d help any way they could otherwise. I understood it, respected it. I’m eternally grateful.
“The people love me there and I’ll always have a connection with Arsenal, so much affection. Not being able to say goodbye playing at the Emirates is like a thorn in my side. If I had to leave, I wanted it to be in front of the fans.”
It’s a shame Arsenal couldn’t wait a bit longer, because Cazorla has been impressive in his three consecutive starts for Villarreal this season. After almost two years of waiting for the Spaniard to get fit though, you can understand why it was a risk they didn’t feel they could take anymore.
You’d think giving Cazorla pre-season to prove himself would’ve been relatively harmless. However, if Arsenal didn’t think there was much chance of giving him a proper contract, it was better to allow the 33-year-old to show his skills somewhere else.
Obviously the worst case scenario for everyone would’ve been Cazorla playing pre-season at Arsenal and then having to find a new club after the Gunners turned him down. It would be a waste of time all around.
Thankfully Santi is at least back playing competitively again. Let’s hope he has a great season.