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Santi Cazorla leaves behind an incredible legacy despite being limited by injuries

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682   //    23 May 2018, 13:47 IST

santi cazorla
Santi Cazorla

In today's day and age, people often misunderstand the meaning of a great player, as the word 'great' is often thrown around and attached to anyone these days.

So how do you define a great player?

There may be other ways to define them, but for me, a great player is someone who performs consistently at the highest level for his team, which is why Santi Cazorla most definitely fits this tag.

Signed during the summer transfer window of 2012, Cazorla wasted no time in becoming an influential player for Arsenal, as his twinkle-toed feet constantly bedewed magic all over the swanky Emirates pitch.

Cazorla was sublime during his first season at the club, as filled in the huge gap that Cesc Fabregas had left at the club, with the former Malaga man displaying the technique and class that you would expect from a Spanish midfielder. With 12 goals and 11 assists, Cazorla was one of the best players in the league that season.

He started off at Arsenal playing just behind the striker, as his vision and class began to have a telling impact on how the team started to play. While Gooners will always remember the joy that Cazorla brought to them on the field, it was his goal in the 2014 FA Cup final that will live long in the memory of Arsenal fans.

Arsenal were under huge pressure heading into the FA Cup final, as they had the chance to remove the burden of not winning a trophy for almost nine years. As fate would have it, Hull City scored two early goals to send Arsene Wenger's side on the brink, as the players looked for some inspiration to find a way back into the game.

Also read: Wizardry cut short: Santi Cazorla's heart-wrenching end to his Arsenal career

Up stepped Cazorla, as the diminutive playmaker scored a brilliant free-kick before halftime to inject hope. Wenger's side would go on to turn the match around in extra time, as Ramsey scored the winner to break the long trophy drought.

Cazorla was superb when it mattered the most for Arsenal, as the Spaniard stepped it up and inspired his team to complete a memorable turnaround. After Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez's arrivals at the club, Cazorla took a back seat and took up a deeper position in midfield, as he evolved into a deep-lying playmaker for the side.

Cazorla's newfound position gave the license for Ozil and Sanchez to wreak havoc up front, as Arsenal slowly emerged as a potential title challenger. But an ill-fated injury to Cazorla in December derailed Arsenal's season, as the Spaniard's loss was too much for the Gunners to recover from.

Cazorla picked up another long-term injury in 2016, which tragically ended up being the last time he played for the London club. After two years of hell, Cazorla is finally ready to play football again but has decided to move on and go back to Spain and join Villarreal.

Cazorla's decision might have upset a few Arsenal fans, as they wanted the midfielder to retire at the Emirates. But then again, can you blame Santi for wanting to go back home after the terrible luck he's had with injuries?

As the former Malaga man leaves the club after six years, he leaves behind incredible memories as not many players have had a lasting impact at the club as him.

Cazorla leaves with an impressive tally of 25 goals and 35 assists in 129 appearances for the club. Out of the 25 goals, 10 were with his 'weaker' left foot, although it is hard to call it weak when you see Cazorla taking corners and free kicks with it.

The midfielder also averaged at least 66 passes in a match, which is far more than David Silva, as this seemingly meaningless stat shows us how critical Cazorla was to this Arsenal team over the years.

As an Arsenal fan, I wish all the very best to Santi Cazorla and hope to see him return to Arsenal one day in the future.

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