Santi Cazorla: I almost had to have my foot amputated

Cazorla could return to Arsenal's first-team as early as January despite the extent of his injury

Cazorla could return to Arsenal's first-team as early as January despite the extent of his injury

The 32-year-old has not played for the Gunners since October last year and has undergone a host of operations since, resulting in the loss of eight centimetres from the tendon in his right ankle.

With an infection rampant, his doctor found that Cazorla had suffered enormous damage to his ankle.

A ligament injury in his left knee would require an operation in December 2015, and he had only recently returned to action from that before facing Ludogorets.

Despite obvious concerns for Cazorla's career, Arsenal agreed a -one-year contract extension.

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However, eight surgeries over the next few months saw the midfielder's injury refuse to heal and it soon became infected.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, pictures show the extent of the injuries and the skin graft which has been taken from Cazorla's arm tattoo.

It remains to be seen whether Cazorla will ever be able to get back to his very best, but he is said to be targeting a return in January.

Trying everything to get back, and focusing on Spanish treatment, Cazorla has been living in a Salamanca hotel since July, whilst his family, with children at school, remain in England. His routine involves swimming, massage, cycling and pilates.

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Cazorla's return would be a much-needed boost for Arsenal.

"Everything that I have gone through has not been as simple an injury as people have believed", added Cazorla. "Nobody trusted me but I do, I still do, although the pain keeps me cautious".

Wenger hopes to reintegrate Cazorla gradually after Christmas but Arsenal remain unwilling to place any expectation on his rehabilitation by commenting on the timetable.

Speaking about the Spaniard on Friday, Wenger said: "I have been in touch with Santi throughout his rehab, and it has been extremely tough and testing for him". "He suffers a lot not to be out there with the ball".

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