Arsene Wenger Hopeful Santi Cazorla Will Play in Premier League Again

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Santi Cazorla waves to the fans during the The FA Community Shield between Chelsea and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on August 6, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger is hopeful that Santi Cazorla will be able to play for Arsenal again in the Premier League despite having spent the best part of two seasons sidelined through injury. 

The French manager said he wants to discuss a new contract with the Spaniard—his current deal expires at the end of 2017-18—and explained Cazorla could return to the club before the end of the season for his fitness to be assessed, per Paul MacInnes in the Guardian:

"I haven't seen Santi since the League Cup final, but the last news I heard is that he's doing very well. Hopefully he can come back before the end of the season to make a check up to see if he can play again in the Premier League. If he could reach that level we would discuss a contract.

"We miss him a lot, you know. I've not spoken about it much, because he has not been the story of the day, but we missed him a lot. He is an exceptional football player, and it is very sad what happened to him. It's very sad for Arsenal as well."

Cazorla, 33, has been out of action since sustaining an Achilles injury in a 6-0 UEFA Champions League victory against Ludogorets in October 2016.

Initially it was hoped he would only miss a short period, but then he had to undergo surgery.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks on during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty I
Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

When that surgery failed to work, he went under the knife again before an infection almost led to him having his foot amputated, per Lorena Gonzalez of Marca.

In Cazorla's absence, Arsenal have failed to find a player who can make the same impact he does.

A deep-lying playmaker, the former Spain international was previously the vital link in Wenger's side between defence and attack.

Way back at the end of 2016, ESPN FC's Tom Adams provided a statistical analysis of Cazorla's impact at Arsenal that showed the Gunners win percentage dropped from 65.2 per cent to 46.4 per cent when he was not in the side.

While Arsenal's recent woes cannot be completely explained by Cazorla's absence, it has been a contributing factor, as has the Gunners' inability to properly replace him.

It seems unlikely Cazorla will ever be able to return to his best, but it would be a huge achievement were he to pull on an Arsenal shirt again in the Premier League, and Wenger thinks it is still a possibility. 

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