MADRID, Spain, Jul 18 – Santi Cazorla will leave Villarreal at the end of the season, the midfielder confirmed on Saturday.
Cazorla bid farewell ahead of the team’s final game of La Liga against Eibar on Sunday. He is expected to join Qatari side Al-Sadd, coached by Xavi Hernandez.
The 35-year-old has enjoyed a brilliant third spell at Villarreal after two years of horrendous injuries.
Cazorla previously made 180 appearances over six years for Arsenal and has 81 caps for Spain. He has also played for Malaga and Recreativo Huelva after first joining Villarreal as a teenager.
“Villarreal has given me everything,” Cazorla said in a video posted by the club on social media. “At 18 they took a punt on a boy from Oviedo who knew nobody.”
Cazorla added: “Hopefully, as it was when I left before, it will be more of a see you later.”
Cazorla’s career looked to be over when an achilles tendon injury threatened to prevent him from walking again, let alone returning to football.
He was operated on eight times in almost two years and at one stage amputation was considered after his foot became seriously infected.
But Cazorla has enjoyed an incredible resurgence at Villarreal, his 11 goals and eight assists this season helping the club qualify for the Europa League.
His superb, cushioned touch for Gerard Moreno to volley in against Valencia last month will go down as one of the moments of the season.
The midfielder would likely have been included in Luis Enrique’s Spain squad for Euro 2020 this summer. He won the European Championships with Spain in both 2008 and 2012.