Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has had to “start again from zero” following his latest injury setback, Arsene Wenger has revealed.
The 32-year-old recently revealed that he has been forced to undergo a ninth operation on a troublesome heel complaint.
He has already been sidelined for over a year, but has now had to start over in a lengthy rehabilitation process.
It was initially hoped that the Spaniard would be ready for a first-team return for the Gunners in January, but he is back at square one and fighting for his future.
"I sent him a message [after the surgery] and wished him well,” Wenger told reporters when offering an update on Cazorla.
“He answered, 'Look I have to start again from zero, basically’. And it's very sad, honestly. What he has gone through, this guy, is unbelievable.
"It's really, really sad. But unfortunately, he has to start again from zero.
“That means if all goes well, he has to wait until he can run. And after, when he starts to run, it will at least take six weeks to come back to training.
“When he will be able to start to run again, I don't know."
Cazorla’s contract at Emirates Stadium is set to expire in the summer of 2018 and no extension can be agreed while he remains out of action.
It could be that a man who moved to north London from Malaga in 2012 has played his last game for the club, but Wenger believes the two-time European Championship winner will return to action.
"I hope so," he said. "But certainly now, not before February."