Former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla proved the doubters and the doctors wrong by appearing in his first game for 636 days, ending nearly three years of fitness problems that had not only threatened to end his career but also to take his foot. The Spaniard ended his six-year spell in North London earlier in the summer and made a return to his first club Villarreal on a one-year deal. Having spent much of the past three seasons with Arsenal on the sidelines, Cazorla was finally able to lace up his boots in anger and participate in a competitive match after recovering from knee, ankle and Achilles problems many thought would bring a premature end to his career.
“Santi Cazorla” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald
After signing for Villarreal, Cazorla’s first taste of action came as the La Liga side took on Hercules CF in a preseason clash, soon followed by an appearance in the club’s opening game of the new Spanish domestic season against Real Sociedad. Having picked up an ankle problem while away with the Spain national team in 2013, the midfielder underwent 10 operations to try to fix the injury. The problem got so bad that doctors warned Cazorla he may struggle to even walk again. That wasn’t the worst of it, though, with the Spaniard almost losing his foot after contracting gangrene after yet another operation on his Achilles; doctors were forced to take a skin graft from his forearm to repair the issue.
With his contract expiring at Arsenal, Villarreal took a chance on a player who enjoyed two spells with the club before moving to England. The La Liga side look a strong unit this season, priced at around 7/1 to record a top-four finish, something that could be worth exploring for anyone interested in taking advantage of these Oddschecker free bets. While it remains to be seen how big a role Cazorla will have, if he can get back to anywhere near the level he was at before his injury problems, the midfielder could be an important part of this Villarreal outfit.
While his departure from Arsenal was a blow to the Gunners, who had waited three years to welcome back the man who made over 180 appearances for them in all competitions, it was clear the Spaniard wasn’t going to get the sort of playing time he can expect at Villarreal, as long as he can stay healthy. It’s certainly hard not to want to wish Cazorla well after such a tough few years – maybe even for Spurs fans.
August 29, 2018