Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has defended the club’s handling of Santi Cazorla after it emerged that the midfielder could miss a further three months because of impending ankle surgery.
The 31-year-old’s Achilles problem had already sidelined the Spain international for nine games.
Wenger said last week he hope Cazorla would be back in a fortnight and there was further bad news Friday for the veteran French manager when it was announced that full-back Mathieu Debuchy could be out for six weeks with a “severe” hamstring injury.
Asked if he had any regrets over Arsenal’s treatment of Cazorla, Wenger replied: “No I don’t because we always liaise with Santi’s people and he is treated the way we wanted him to be treated.
“It is always very sensitive. Bone inflammation, you never know how long it will last. For me it’s very bad news. You always know the date of the surgery but never the date where the player will play again.
“I always try to put absolutely everything in place to avoid surgery because it creates anxiety and rehab. When you can avoid it, you have to avoid it.
“In this case, unfortunately we have come to that conclusion. Now they tell me that he will be out for two months at least but two months can sometimes be three as well.
“What’s going wrong is that he has an inflammation at the back of his foot. The anti-inflammatory injections have not got rid of it. The surgeon decided to have an exploratory surgery — that means open and see what’s going on in there.”
Arsenal, currently three points adrift of Premier League leaders and London rivals Chelsea, do have alternative midfield options in Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka, with Wenger saying he had no plans to seek a replacement for Cazorla during the January transfer window.
“Not really, no,” said Wenger. “In midfield we have many players. There are two reasons — first of all we have the number and the quality and secondly, in the January transfer market, you will not necessarily find a Cazorla, even if you wanted to.
“Santi is desperate to play football. He’s only happy on the football pitch. I’ve spoken to him, of course. He himself wants to get out of that vicious circle of going out and coming in again. He just wants to cure it.”
Debuchy injured his hamstring just 16 minutes into his comeback, the France international in the XI that beat Bournemouth 3-1 last weekend despite not starting an Arsenal game in over a year.
“It’s a severe hamstring injury. Six weeks (out), I think,” said Wenger.
“Look, it’s frustrating for me, but even more for him because he fights very hard. He is a guy who has exceptional attitude and is very serious.
“Overall, I think that he is absolutely disappointed, but he is as well a fighter and he will fight to come back,” added Wenger ahead of Arsenal’s trip across London to West Ham on Saturday.