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The wishfulest of thinking: Arsene Wenger says Santi Cazorla still has a career

I mean, I love Santi,

Arsenal v Chelsea - The Emirates FA Cup Final
Santi Cazorla and unidentified fan at the 2017 Cup final
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Throughout anyone’s sports-watching and sports-fanning life, there are bound to be any number of players that engender a larger-than-normal level of “I LOVE THIS GUY SO MUCH”-ness. Not just the average superstar - I mean, when you get to the level of being a Cristiano Ronaldo, a Kobe Bryant, a Mike Trout, or any super-elite athlete, they become less human beings than human highlight generators that are sort of one level removed from being a relatable person, if that makes sense - not that they’re not, it’s just that they’re so good at their jobs it removes the desire to maybe be pals with them and replaces that with a jaw-dropping awe at how they do what they do.

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, there are those players that you love despite the fact that they’re athletes - they’re not all that good, but they’re fun to watch and you love to watch them play because you think “wow, this dude kinda sucks, but look how much fun he’s having” or something similar.

Rarely, though, you get a guy that’s both. A guy who is really, really good and a guy who seems to truly enjoy his job, and who is relatable, or at least as relatable as a highly compensated athlete can ever be. Santi Cazorla is absolutely that for me - he’s not a top five player in the world or anything, but as far as DM’s go, he was one of the best, and he was a joy to watch. Part of that joy was in how much he seemed to enjoy being an Arsenal player, and in how he didn’t take himself hyper-seriously.

So, when he first got injured, in October of 2016, we all thought “wow, that sucks, get well soon!” and hoped he’d be back. And then he wasn’t. And then we learned how hard his road back has been, and how close he was to actually losing his foot, not just not playing again, and our hearts collectively broke. After all, Cazorla’s 33 now, and with every subsequent setback (there was another not too long ago), the likelihood of his return was slight - and even if he did return, would a by-then-34 year old who hadn’t played in two years still be the Santi we remembered?

Well, at least one person thinks that there’s a possibility he can be. Santi’s out of contract this summer, but Arsene Wenger is very open to re-signing him:

Hopefully he can come back before the end of the season to make a check up to see if he can play again in the Premier League. If he could reach that level we would discuss a contract.

Don’t get me wrong - I would love it if Santi were able to play at a Premier League level again. I’m just highly skeptical he can (or, let’s be honest, should) after all he’s been through. My ideal dream scenario is that he gets to that level, signs a new contract, and starts the first game of next season, only to be subbed off after 5 minutes so he can slowly walk off the pitch to the rapturous standing ovation his career and recovery process so richly deserves.