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Santi Cazorla is targeting a return to action with Arsenal in 2019 after undergoing the 10th operation of his injury-hit career last year.
The Spanish midfielder has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 and has had to undergo multiple operations, resulting in the loss of eight centimetres from the tendon in his right ankle.
Last year, in an emotional interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, he opened up on his fight to play professional football again and posed for a series of shocking photos.
And now the 33-year-old Spaniard has revealed his target to return for the Gunners, despite considering hanging up his boots during his injury hell.
He told RTVE: ‘There have been moments when I’ve thought about throwing in the towel. I’ve thought things like “maybe it is not worth continuing”.
‘If things go well, maybe next year I can play at the top level again.
‘The last surgery was seven weeks ago, and my tenth in total. The first surgery was risky because I took many corticosteroids and the skin deteriorated.
‘Then a skin graft was proposed and after that, the infection ate my tendon’.
Cazorla has not played since October 2016 and almost had his right foot amputated.
He had contracted gangrene and lost eight centimetres from his achilles as skin from his tattooed arm was grafted on.
Cazorla previously revealed the shocking extent of his injury nightmare to Marca: ‘If you get to walk again with your son in the garden, be satisfied, they told me.
‘He [Dr Mikel Sanchez] saw that I had a tremendous infection, that I had damaged part of the calcaneus bone and it had eaten the achilles tendon. There was eight centimetres of it missing!’
Arsene Wenger described the injury as the worst he had ever seen. No doubt the Arsenal manager and the football community will welcome the diminutive playmaker back with open arms when he finally returns to action.