It’s a great shame that when Santi Cazorla plays what is widely expected to be his final La Liga game against Eibar on Sunday there will be no fans in the stands at El Madrigal to give him the sendoff he so clearly deserves. At another time in other circumstances, the Villarreal support would have brought down the house.
Cazorla wouldn’t just have been given a warm reception from his own fans. Along with Joaquin, the 35-year-old is probably the most universally popular player in the Spanish game at this moment. Of course, this status has been helped by the fact the playmaker never played for Barcelona or Real Madrid, but the way he plays the game has endeared him to millions.
Villarreal confirmed on Saturday that the match against Eibar will be Cazorla’s final game for the club. The 35-year-old has a number of options, with Beskitas and Saudi Arabian side Al Sadd both making offers to the player for one more season on the pitch. There is speculation Cazorla also has an offer from Arsenal to join Mikel Arteta’s coaching staff from next season.
After the season Cazorla has enjoyed, it’s a shame that he is leaving La Liga at all. The veteran playmaker has been in such form, scoring 11 goals and assisting eight times over the course of the campaign, that many presumed he would be a part of Luis Enrique’s Spain squad for this summer’s European Championships. That would have been a fitting reward for a truly remarkable season. Cazorla is indeed back among Spain’s best midfielders. That’s the level he is performing at.
Cazorla’s form is made all the more impressive when the nadir of his still recent injury troubles are taken into account. As recently as 2018, he looked certain to retire from the sport, with doctors even telling the player that he would be fortunate to walk again after contracting an infection.
The return to Villarreal gave Cazorla to rebuild his fitness and his career, with the 35-year-old coming up big for the Yellow Submarine over the last two seasons. The stands at El Madrigal might be empty when Cazorla takes to a Spanish Liga field for the final time on Sunday, but there will be fans of all persuasions around Spain saluting a true great of his generation.
How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.