From now until the end of the season, we’ll be singling out one LaLiga player each week for special praise.
And the winner of our Onefootball LaLiga Player of the Week award is …
Santi Cazorla – Villarreal
Arsène Wenger said it was the worst injury he had seen. Doctors told him to be satisfied with walking around in his garden, let alone playing top-level football again.
There were foot and ankle injuries, 10 operations and even a skin graft; after an unfortunate infection consumed 10cm of tendon leaving the bone squishy, risking his career and potentially his leg.
But fast forward two years and Santi Cazorla is back on Spanish football pitches once again, delivering touches of class and toothy grins.
The 35-year-old has been a revelation since re-joining Villarreal and his quality was on display against Valencia on Sunday.
Playing on the left hand side, Cazorla was central to everything good El Submarino Amarillo created at Estadio de la Cerámica – cutting in and linking play beautifully with Paco Alcácer and Xavier Quintilla.
He also completed five dribbles, created four chances and even made three tackles in what was a complete performance.
But please can we talk about his assist for Gerard Moreno.
The ball was launched so high into the sky by goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo, it basically came down covered in ice.
And what does Cazorla do? Escape the last defender, Cushion a PERFECT volley straight into Moreno, who doesn’t even have to break stride before volleying the ball home.
It was the perfect goal in so many ways, highlighting pure technical quality, awareness and control – which Arsenal fans have seen in abundance over the years.
Santi is joy on the football pitch. Every action is completed so well, with such confidence, and with a smile on his face. We are lucky to have him.
Only Lionel Messi (27) has provided more assists than Cazorla (18) since the start of last season. Only Lionel Messi (2.6) creates more chances per 90 minutes than Cazorla (2.5).
Returning to this level is an astounding feat, and with Villarreal in sixth, any European push is dependent on this little magician staying fit.
And we hope he does.