Arsenal have announced that Santi Cazorla is to leave the club following the end of his contract.
Cazorla played under Arsene Wenger for six seasons after joining from Malaga in 2012, but he will now follow the former manager out of the Emirates Stadium.
The 33-year-old saw the latter phases of his Arsenal career marred by an injury to his Achilles sustained in October 2016 and hasn’t featured for the Gunners since.
Santi Cazorla bid farewell to Arsenal on Monday as he issued a statement on Twitter
Cazorla (left) will leave Arsenal with immediate effect following the expiration of his contract
The 33-year-old made his last first-team appearance for Arsenal in October 2016
CAZORLA’S TIME AT THE GUNNERS
Arsenal: FA Cup winner (2014, 2015), Community Shield winner (2015, 2016)
Career: European champions – Spain (2008, 2012), Spanish Football of the Year (2007)
‘Santi is always one of my favourite players to watch,’ Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said on the club’s website. ‘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.’
Despite his trouble with injury, Cazorla returned to Arsenal training at the start of May but was unable to make a return to the match-day squad.
The last two seasons have seen Cazorla fade into the background at Arsenal as he was forced to endure several operations on his Achilles tendon, with one requiring a skin graft from his arm.
Even with his continued absence from the Arsenal side, Cazorla stole supporters’ hearts with his creative and dynamic midfield play, and he remains a fan favourite at the Emirates.
An injury to his Achilles tendon marred the last two seasons of his career at Arsenal
The Spaniard required skin grafts from his left arm to help treat the injured Achilles
Hello to all the Arsenal fans. I am very sad to be leaving after so many great times. I have loved my time with the club and our time together and the special moments we have shared.
Our FA Cup win in 2014 we will never forget. It was a great moment for me and for the club. And I want to thank you because you always give me special support and I am very proud of this club’s history.
I want to wish you all the best. I will miss you a lot, and thank you very much again.
Arsenal’s official Twitter account wrote: ‘#GraciasSanti for the 180 appearances, the 29 goals, the 46 assists, the cup final free-kick, the masterclass at Man City, the Panenka, the crazy footwork, the laughs, the corners with either foot, the goals in the north London derby and for always making us smile @19SCazorla’
Having made 129 Premier League appearances under Wenger before suffering his horror Achilles injury, Cazorla played an integral role in the side during his first three seasons, missing only eight league games.
‘I am very sad to be leaving after so many great times,’ Cazorla said in a video posted on Arsenal’s Twitter. ‘I have loved my time with the club and our time together and the special moments we have shared.’
The Spanish midfielder looked back on fond memories with Arsenal as he addressed them
His absence from the side has caused issues for him in recent years though, and Arsenal have been forced to part ways with the midfielder as they look to make room on their payroll for summer arrivals.
Following the end of Wenger’s 22-year reign at the club, Arsenal are in the midst of a shake up with a number of players and staff facing the axe as they prepare for a new era in north London.
#GraciasSanti for the 180 appearances, the 29 goals, the 46 assists, the cup final free-kick, the masterclass at Man City, the Panenka, the crazy footwork, the laughs, the corners with either foot, the goals in the north London derby and for always making us smile ❤️@19SCazorla pic.twitter.com/uIyi2JMetH
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 21, 2018
The midfielder’s next destination is currently unspecified after his departure was announced