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Villarreal's Santi Cazorla regrets not getting a farewell game at Arsenal

Santi Cazorla joined Villarreal from Arsenal in the summer (Image: Twitter)

Bengaluru, September 9: Villarreal attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla, who joined the La Liga side in the summer transfer window, has expressed regret over not getting a farewell game at Arsenal.

Arsenal fans bade goodbye to one of their beloved heroes Cazorla, who left the club as a free agent at the end of his contract and returned to boyhood club Villarreal.

Cazorla's last appearance in Arsenal colours came in October 2016 in the Champions League against Bulgarian side Ludogorets. Cazorla suffered an Achilles injury, which kept him out of action for almost 21 months. He returned to light training in May but could not make an appearance again for the Gunners.

After his contract expired, the midfielder decided to end his relationship with the North London side and instead opted to play for Villarreal.

And in a recent interview, the midfielder now has opened up on his departure from the club and also addressed the strong bond he has with the Arsenal fans despite leaving the side.

When asked if continuing at Arsenal beyond the summer was an option, he told The Guardian: "No, they didn't want to. They were very good, very honest. My idea was to do at Arsenal what I eventually did here .

"I knew whoever was going to sign me would have to see me first: nobody just gives you a contract. Pre-season with Arsenal, let them see me, then we all decide. But they couldn't wait to finalise the squad.

"They said they'd help any way they could otherwise. I understood it, respected it. I'm eternally grateful. The people love me there and I'll always have a connection with Arsenal, so much affection.

However, the Spanish midfielder regretted that he did not get to say goodbye to the Arsenal fans on the pitch.

The 33-year-old resumed training with Arsene Wenger's squad towards the end of last season but the Frenchman did not risk Cazorla's long-term fitness by giving him a farewell game. Cazorla has suggested that he will always be sad that he never got the chance to say goodbye by playing one final game at the Emirates.

"Not being able to say goodbye playing at the Emirates is like a thorn in my side. If I had to leave, I wanted it to be in front of the fans," he added.

Since re-signing for Villarreal, Cazorla has started every game so far in the La Liga but his team is yet to get a win.

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    Story first published: Sunday, September 9, 2018, 14:58 [IST]
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