It’s impossible to hate Santi Cazorla.
Even Spurs fans will struggle to find even a semblance of bad blood towards the Spaniard.
Because Cazorla’s career, despite some glorious highs, is still a case of what might have been.
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Ravaged by debilitating injuries – including having to take a skin graft from his arm to remedy his ankle problem – it looked like he would never set foot on the field again, let alone dominate midfields.
At one point he was even told he should be ‘satisfied’ to even walk again after 11 separate operations.
But dominating midfields is exactly what he’s been doing since his return to Villarreal.
And with Lionel Messi struggling with injury problems himself, there’s a credible argument to suggest Cazorla has been the best player in Spain so far this season.
The 34-year-old has four goals and three assists in seven La Liga games so far.
In fact, only two players have scored more while no players have created more.
Cazorla is one of those rare phenomenons who can dictate games entirely at his pace, at his discretion.
Equally gifted on either foot, he is both agile and destructive from distance.
Even Cazorla himself couldn’t have envisaged his turnaround, earning a recall to the Spain squad for the first time in 1299 days this summer to cap a brilliant few months.
Arsenal fans will loathe his absence, wishfully kidding themselves that Dani Ceballos – albeit a talented young player – can plug the gap vacated by their former Spanish wizard.
And again it’s a case of what if, because if Cazorla could have stayed fit he would have been the perfect supply line to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.
But let’s focus on the here and now.
No renaissance has been more satisfying in recent years, no player deserves an Indian summer more.
One of the most popular figures around is in the form of his life playing with a smile on his face again.
There really is no sweeter sight for football fans.
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