Santi Cazorla is convinced Arsenal fans will see him play at his best next season despite reports which suggest the Spaniard was considering retirement following his long-term injury nightmare.
The 32-year-old midfielder is yet to play a game since the Champions League's 6-0 win over Ludogorets on 19 October, being forced off in the second part of the game due to an achilles injury.
He was expected to return to action in a matter of days but on 1 December IBTimes UK revealed that the Arsenal star required a surgery because the recovery was not going as expected.
Cazorla went under the knife days later, with Arsenal ruling him out for between two and three months.
However, Cazorla eventually missed the rest of the campaign after suffering a number of setbacks and being forced to undergo a further seven operations.
Reports even suggested that the former Spanish international may had played his last game for Arsenal – and that he was even considering hanging up his boots.
But the former Malaga and Villarreal started his recovery two weeks ago and is convinced that he will "soon" be able to pull the Arsenal shirt again.
"Do not pay attention to that [rumours]. Those who want to retire me will get to see me [play] again. I will return. I do not know how far I am [off returning] but I am convinced that I am going to play football again and at my best level. I am working on it and hopefully it can be as soon as possible. I am convinced that I will come back," Cazorla said to Onda Cero.
Asked if he was worried about not returning to his best level, he admitted: "Yes, that was the worst thing. The problem is that [doctors] did not know what's going on. The worst thing is in the head [staying mentally strong]. But I went to Spain, they found a bacteria [an infection], and now it seems that problem is already solved. It looks like the operations are over. Now I'm very happy, starting the recovery that is was what I wanted."
Cazorla already can see light at the end of the tunnel but refused to set a time frame in his recovery.
"I started the recovery two weeks ago. I'm still far [from playing again]. I do not have strength in my tendon or muscle mass. I need time [to regain it] but I am very happy my recovery in this 15 days," the Arsenal midfielder added. "I am fine but I do not want to set a return date because if I can't fulfil it would be a big blow. I only think about the day to day. I really want to play again and I will work to get back as soon as possible."
Arsene Wenger still expects to have him available at some point this season after the club activate an option to renew his contract until the summer of 2018. Cazorla was full of praise on his boss for that gesture as he was out of contract at the end of the season.
"Three days before the first operation [in December], the manager called me to his office to give me a new deal. He told me that Arsenal counted on me ahead of next season," Cazorla revealed. "It was a relief. Having another year of contract at Arsenal has made me facing [the injury nightmare] in a better way. Now fortunately I will be able to have the option to return to play in a great club like Arsenal."
Nevertheless, Wenger knows that Cazorla's return to action won't come soon and is still reportedly trying to bolster his midfield ahead of the coming season.
Indeed, earlier this week L'Equipe reported the Gunners are interested in the signing coveted Jean-Michael Seri, who has a €40m (£35.6m, $46.8m) release clause in his contract at OGC Nice.
The 25-year-old has also been linked with Barcelona, Tottenham and Swansea this summer but the French publication said that Wenger is also a big fan of his compatriot and could make a move to lure him to the Emirates Stadium.