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Arsene Wenger has heaped praise on Santi Cazorla as the Arsenal midfielder continues to work on his rehabilitation from a long-term ankle problem.
The Spanish midfielder hasn’t kicked a ball in the 2017-18 season after the 32-year-old suffered a setback in his bid to return from an ankle injury.
In fact, Cazorla has not featured for Arsenal since October 2016 after he had to undergo surgery to correct his ankle issue.
Remarkably, he has gone under the knife eight times but the wound did not heal and became infected to provide a serious roadblock on his road to recovery.
Cazorla’s eighth operation was the reconstruction of his Achilles tendon back in May.
The former Malaga and Villarreal midfielder is working on his return to full fitness as Arsenal look to reclaim their top-four spot.
Wenger heaped praise on Cazorla for showing plenty of courage during some tough times over the past 12 months or so.
“I have been in touch with Santi throughout his rehab, and it has been extremely tough and testing for him,” Wenger told Arsenal’s website.
“If there is one guy who loves football passionately, loves to be on the pitch, and comes in with a smile every day when he is fit, it’s Santi Cazorla, so you know he suffers a lot not to be out there with the ball at his feet.
“He is extremely strong and brave, and behind his smile is a strength you would not guess. He is a very strong character, and everyone at Arsenal wishes him well and we hope to have him back soon.”
Arsenal signed Cazorla in a £10m deal from Malaga in the 2012 summer transfer window.
The Gunners lost 3-1 to Premier League leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League last weekend.
The north London side signed Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac in the summer.