Arsenal have confirmed one of football’s worst-kept secrets after announcing that Santi Cazorla is leaving the club after coming to the end of his contract.
The 33-year-old made 180 appearances for the Gunners since signing from Malaga in 2012, scoring 29 goals in all competitions.
Former Spain international Cazorla has not appeared for Arsenal since sustaining an Achilles injury in October 2016.
Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s chief executive, said on the club’s website: “Santi is always one of my favourite players to watch.
“His natural ability with both feet, his speed of thought and movement were central to our best performances in recent years.
“He plays with a joy and freedom which is very rare. We wish him well for the future and thank him for his important contribution to our club.”
Cazorla is expected to take up a one-year deal with his former club Villarreal, who dropped a huge hint a deal was close this weekend.
Villarreal club ambassador Marcos Senna stood and smiled while reporter Mónica Marchante said on La Casa del Futbol: “It is all-but-official that, although it has not all been completely confirmed by the club, Santi Cazorla will spend pre-season next season – well, this July as we are already there – with Villarreal.”
Meanwhile, the Gunners are looking at midfield reinforcements with Nice’s Jean-Michael Seri and Napoli’s Jorginho mentioned as possible targets.
One player unlikely to sign, however, is Max Meyer, with the Schalke star expected to make a surprise move.
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