Arsenal have confirmed that Santi Cazorla is leaving the club after six years.
The Spaniard hasn’t played since October 2016 when he picked up an ankle injury that required surgery. That injury turned into a personal nightmare and despite countless operations, including a skin graft to prevent further infection, he never added to his 180 appearances in a Gunners shirt.
It’s fair to say that Santi has been one of the most popular players at the club since he signed from Malaga in 2012.
He could play with both feet, his ability to wriggle out of tight spaces was miraculous and he always had a smile on his face. He was and is the type of footballer you pay to watch. That free-kick in the 2014 FA Cup Final alone will earn him a place in Arsenal folklore.
In the absence of the departed Arsène Wenger, CEO Ivan Gazidis paid the following tribute to the midfielder.
“Santi is always one of my favourite players to watch. His natural ability with both feet, his speed of thought and movement were central to our best performances in recent years. He plays with a joy and freedom which is very rare. We wish him well for the future and thank him for his important contribution to our club.”
Last week, there were a flutter of rumours about Santi joining Mikel Arteta’s coaching staff (should the latter re-join as Head Coach), but it looks like he’s going to give football one last chance. Former club Villarreal are hosting him during pre-season and hopefully he’ll prove he’s worth a deal there.
Realistically, given Santi earns £90,000 a week, there’s also a sense that Arsenal are being practical, especially given this summer’s budget constraints.
Best of luck Santi, you will be sorely missed!