Rossi inspired by Cazorla as former Villarreal star targets return to elite football

By Sports Desk November 15, 2019

Giuseppe Rossi has hailed Santi Cazorla as an "inspiration" as the former Villarreal and Manchester United striker targets a return to elite-level football.

Rossi, 32, is back training with his old club Villarreal six years after leaving Spain to join Serie A side Fiorentina.

The 30-cap Italy international has been a free agent since he left Genoa at the end of 2017-18, having escaped a ban after testing positive for dorzolamide - a banned substance commonly found in eye drops that Rossi and his legal team insisted was consumed accidentally.

Since then, he has spent time training with United and recently returned to Villarreal to try to build up match fitness, with a view to playing at the highest level again.

Rossi's career has been blighted by serious knee injuries, but he enjoyed his most productive spell with Villarreal, scoring 82 times to become the club's all-time leading goalscorer.

Cazorla has enjoyed a renaissance since returning to Villarreal last year after an Achilles infection left him fearing he may never walk again, and Rossi hopes to emulate his former team-mate's comeback.

"When we were playing years ago, we never thought we would have these situations in our careers. But it happens, it's all part of the sport, right?" Rossi told Omnisport, courtesy of LaLiga.

"It's how you come back, it's the fight that you put into the recovery, wanting to get back to your levels of before. I've been down, and I came back up; I've been down again, and I've always come back up.

"It's the same thing with Santi. He's back to playing at these high levels, playing with the national team also, so he's definitely an inspiration to me, also to all the young players and the players that are on this team.

"It's crazy, the parallels that we have, so of course it's always great to see him back, to see him playing at this level."

Like Cazorla, Rossi is determined not to allow his football career to be halted early by injuries, even though he has not played a competitive match since May last year.

"It's a big psychological thing when you get injured," he said. "Are you able to be patient, are you able to learn, are you able to put in the work and the time to get back to certain playing styles and certain levels?

"Sometimes, it's hard. Sometimes, people give up. We've seen that in the past, not only in football but in other sports. But that's not the case with me. It's something I'll never do. I love this game too much, I work too hard, I've sacrificed too much. I cannot give up on this sport."

Rossi has been made to feel at home since coming back to Villarreal, saying: "It feels great. It's a place where I grew up as a player; it's a place where I grew up as a man.

"I had five beautiful years with them, we accomplished a lot together, and it's just great being back here, seeing people and just having fun on the pitch again.

"Each day, I'm getting more match fit, getting used to the pace. I'm just trying to get fit, trying to show that I'm ready to play at whatever level, and just continue to have fun. I'm still young, I'm still hungry. I've done a lot in this sport and I'm very happy, but I'm still hungry, I still want more. I still want to show that I can come back and play at these levels."

It remains to be seen whether Rossi will get the chance to play in LaLiga once more, but he still considers Spain's top flight to be the pinnacle.

"For me, LaLiga is the essence of football," he added. "It's fun watching the technical ability of a player. It's very attacking, there's a lot more space, therefore there's much more excitement in games.

"Four, five years, ago, they thought LaLiga was only a two-team league. Today, you have six, seven teams all mixed up. It's exciting."

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    - Jan Vertonghen is coming out of contract at Tottenham and appears set to leave the club. The Telegraph reports the defender has emerged as a target for Manchester City.

    - Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma's contract expires in 2021. CalcioMercato reports renewing the shot-stopper's deal is becoming a priority for Milan, who are set to extend his contract until 2023.

    - Former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, 34, is a free agent after leaving Qatari club Al-Duhail. According to CalcioMercato, Inter are yet to make a strong move for the Croatian amid reported interest.

    - As they look to raise funds, Manchester United are open to selling six players. The Telegraph reports Alexis Sanchez, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot are considered dispensable.

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