Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla is set to miss the remainder of this season with an ankle injury.
The 32-year-old has been sidelined since limping off against Ludogoretes in the Champions League last October.
He underwent surgery in December and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was hopeful to have him back before May. However, the Spaniard is now focusing on getting ready for next season.
ESPN FC reported on Thursday that a club source has informed them Cazorla’s injury is taking longer than originally expected after the player suffered a setback last month.
Over the past few seasons, the Spanish international has formed a solid partnership with Mesut Ozil, who’s own form has suffered recently.
After making a strong start to the season, The Gunners are now fourth in the Premier League, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Without Cazorla, the London side still managed to qualify for the knockout round of the Champions League, finishing top of their group.
However, they were beaten 5-1 by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena last Wednesday, and now face a tough task to overturn the deficit in the second leg.
They host the German champions on Tuesday, March 7 at the Emirates Stadium.
Cazorla, of course, will play no part in that game, or any other before the end of the season. According to ESPN FC, he’s now targeting a return in August.
Under new management?
One man that may not return at all next season, is Wenger himself. Speculation surrounding his future has been growing over the past few weeks. The Frenchman confirmed he wants to remain in management for another year, but did not specify if he would stay at Arsenal or not.
With his 21-year spell at the club perhaps drawing to an end, Wenger will want to bow out with style. His side are still alive in the FA Cup, but being 10 points behind league leaders Chelsea and 5-1 down to Bayern in the Champions League, the cup may be his only chance of silverware this season.