Santi Cazorla has revealed he was keen on staying with Arsenal this summer and proving his fitness.
The Spain international has endured a torrid couple of years with injury and he failed to make a single appearance for the Gunners last season after an infection picked up following numerous ankle operations almost resulted in the midfielder losing his foot.
Cazorla’s contract at Arsenal expired in the summer and the Premier League outfit decided not to offer the 33-year-old a new deal, bringing his six-year stay at the Emirates to an end.
The Llanera-born star has since been snapped up by Villarreal and he has looked good so far this term, having featured in all three of the Yellow Submarines’ La Liga matches.
Although Cazorla is enjoying life back in his homeland, he has revealed he wanted to prolong his stay in London.
“No, they didn’t want to,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. “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. 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.”