Santi Cazorla is set to leave Arsenal as a free agent this summer and could join up with La Liga side Villarreal for pre-season, with the Gunners not expected to try to sign the midfielder to a new deal.
Per James Benge of the London Evening Standard, Cazorla has yet to make a decision regarding his future, but Villarreal seem confident he will join them in the summer:
Benge noted the 33-year-old has been sidelined with an Achilles injury since 2016. Any club that signs him would be taking a massive risk, explaining why the Yellow Submarine would rather have him prove his fitness in pre-season first.
While there are a lot of fans who will be sad to see him go, some pointed out this is likely a good thing for Arsenal:
Cazorla was a fantastic and loyal servant for the club in his prime, spending more than half a decade in north London. He joined the club from Malaga in 2012 and quickly became a fan favourite thanks to his quick feet, dribbling skills and sublime vision.
Per the report, his close connection to Mikel Arteta―Arsenal's likely new manager―will not lead to a new contract. Arsene Wenger previously stated he hoped the Spaniard would sign a new deal.
Despite the persistent injuries, the club continued to believe in Cazorla until the end and even put out this video earlier in May to celebrate his return to training:
At this stage of his career, it's unclear whether we will ever see Cazorla play in a high-level, competitive match ever again. There will undoubtedly be a number of clubs willing to give him a shot in pre-season, but a return to Spain, away from the prying eyes of the British press, may be a good move for the playmaker.
He rose to fame at El Madrigal―now known as the Estadio de la Ceramica―and is still a popular figure in the city of Villarreal. A happy ending in the form of a successful return would be a great conclusion to his career and something Gunners fans would also probably like to see.
With Wenger's departure, this is yet another change the club will have to deal with. But because of his inactivity over the past few years, that shouldn't be an issue.