There's a strong argument that Santi Cazorla is one of the finest midfielders that's graced world football over the last few years. He's proven his quality and that he is a player who belongs at the highest echelon of club football, having been a standout figure for his teams – Villarreal, Malaga and now Arsenal.
Cazorla’s wizardry and ingenuity on the ball, as well as his versatility, have made him a regular fixture in the Spain squad for some time. But whilst no one can deny his qualities at club level, he hasn't quite translated that sort of form to La Roja on an individual level. He's rarely managed to break into the starting line-up for his country and at 31, he's not about to do it now either.
Going into the Euro 2016, it's not only unlikely that Cazorla will be in Spain's starting XI, but it's also looking unlikely that he'll even be in the squad. His last game was at the end of last November and since then he hasn't been able to play because of knee and Achilles injuries. That, along with the fact that other candidates for his place in the squad are playing well, leaves Cazorla in a tough position to make the final 23-man group.
Cazorla has been in this situation before, having struggled with a hernia problem for much of the 2009-10 campaign while he was at Villarreal, and ended up missing out on the eventual World Cup-winning squad for the tournament in South Africa. And while the talk has seemingly been positive from his camp in regards to his health of late, his lack of game time is still a worry and may see him ultimately left out once again
When considering the injuries he's had and the fact that he's already into his 30s, this may be Cazorla's last opportunity to play at a major tournament before he gives up international football. He's already been part of two different Spain squads that conquered European football, but that hasn't killed his hunger or motivation from doing it all over again, as evidenced by his intense attempt to get back to full fitness over the last couple of months ahead of the latest event.
Although Cazorla isn't a starter for Spain, he is still regarded as an important member of the squad and is held in high regard by all his teammates and Coaches. That sort of reputation gives him a chance of still appearing in France in June, but his fitness and lack of games may prove to be detrimental to his cause and that could ultimately be the decisive factor in whether he goes or not.