Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed midfielder Santi Cazorla must "start again from zero" in his injury rehab after having his ninth operation on the Achilles problem that has kept him out of action for over a year.
The Gunners boss described the Spaniard's situation as "unbelievable" and said there is no way the player will be able to return before February, per ESPN.co.uk's Mattias Karen:
"I sent him a message [after the surgery] and wished him well. He answered, 'Look I have to start again from zero,' basically. And it's very sad, honestly. What he has gone through, this guy, is unbelievable.
"It's really, really sad. But unfortunately, he has to start again from zero. That means if all goes well, he has to wait until he can run. And after, when he starts to run, it will at least take six weeks to come back to training. When he will be able to start to run again, I don't know. I hope [he will be back]. But certainly now, not before February."
Cazorla's last appearance for Arsenal was back in October 2016 against Ludogorets Razgrad in the UEFA Champions League.
In November of last year, Wenger described the problem as "not a big injury, it's not an injury which will harm his future," per Metro's Mark Brus.
However, it could prove to be an injury that ends Cazorla's career at the Emirates Stadium, as his contract with Arsenal expires at the end of the season.
A long-term favourite of the Emirates faithful, he continues to receive the support of Arsenal fans, per Karen:
Mattias Karén @MattiasKaren
Chants of "Oh, Santi Cazorla" ringing out around the Emirates, after the midfielder's latest injury setback.2017-11-29 20:48:26
But the Gunners have had to learn to cope without Cazorla, who will be 33 on Wednesday, for so long now that the news of his extended lay-off should have little impact on the team's form.
It would be a major boost, though, were he to finally return to fitness at some point before the end of the season.
At his best, Cazorla is arguably Arsenal's most influential central midfielder.
When he was first sidelined last year, Ben McAleer of WhoScored.com examined how crucial his absence could prove given how important Cazorla was to Arsenal's creativity.
The north London outfit have been able to adapt to life without the Spaniard in the side and have looked largely impressive this season, even in Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Manchester United, which ended a 12-game winning run at home in the Premier League.
But news of Cazorla's latest setback will be met with huge disappointment at the Emirates, as he is a popular figure who could play a huge role in the side if he were fit.