Robert Pires says Santi Cazorla is loved wherever he goes, adding that the midfielder has earned that affection, particularly after his recent injury struggles.

Speaking to French outlet France Football, Pires first talked about the joy Cazorla brings to whichever squad he’s in.

“He’s my little colt. He’s my friend. He’s above all a great guy who was really appreciated by everyone in Arsenal,” Pires said. “As soon as he passes somewhere, he is loved. He is natural, he has the joy of living.

“He did not play for eighteen months, you find him on the field, and he has his smile. It brings you cheerfulness in a locker room. And that’s why everyone appreciates it so much. Whether in Villarreal, Arsenal or with Spain, he marked everyone.”

Of course, it hasn’t always been easy for the midfielder to stay positive in recent years. Spending so long on the sidelines in his thirties, plenty of players might have decided to call it quits, but Cazorla stayed optimistic and eventually returned to the pitch.

“He never saw the end of the tunnel,” Pires continued. “As soon as he thought he was recovering, he was relapsing. After doing a lot, a lot of effort, he is rewarded. And it’s good that a club like Villarreal offers him another chance. He demonstrated that he could come back with the right mindset. He has done it!”

In recent games, Cazorla has been finding some good form. In his last five appearances, he has one goal and two assists, which is even more impressive when you consider he only spent 218 minutes on the pitch in those games. Watching clips of the former Gunner in action, you can see he’s rediscovering his best.

Clearly, Villarreal are keen not to overplay the Spaniard, but they still managed to give him his first 90 minutes of the campaign in a recent Europa League game against Rangers. Hopefully, it was the first of many this season.