Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla may not return to action until October, having undergone eight operations to rectify an ankle injury.
The 32-year-old played just 11 times for the Gunners last season before damaging his Achilles in the Champions League win over Ludogorets in October.
Cazorla was at Wembley with his team-mates to celebrate the north London club's record 13th FA Cup win on Saturday, but has since said he is not expecting to be fit in time for the start of next term.
"You feel like throwing in the towel but my desire to play football is above everything," he told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.
"I haven't been given a timeframe. It's very difficult to put a date, but I don't think it will be before five months."
Despite his ankle problem, Cazorla was handed a one-year contract extension at the turn of the year.
Many Arsenal fans pointed to the absence of the the Spain international as a key factor in the poor run of form which ended the Gunners' Premier League and Champions League hopes.
A run of seven defeats in 12 games saw Arsenal drop out of the title picture, eventually finishing fifth, while Bayern Munich recorded a 10-2 aggregate victory over Arsene Wenger's side in Europe.
Cazorla continued: "It's been since October that I last played.
"I've undergone eight surgeries, the last one (on Monday). I hope that things go better.
"I've had complications since November. I got a bacterial infection in surgery, my bone got infected, the wound would not close and I had a graft done."
Cazorla, who moved to the Emirates Stadium from Malaga in 2012, said the 2016/17 campaign had been his most difficult to date but praised the club for sticking by him during his drawn-out recovery.
Asked if it was the worst season of his career, he said: "Yes.
"I remember I had a bad spell with a back problem but this is worse because it doesn't depend on me.
"Right now I can't think about the future. I just want to return to playing.
"Arsenal have been very good to me. They gave me a contract extension before I had my surgery. The coach (Wenger) spoke to me and reassured me."
If Cazorla's timeline to a full recovery is accurate, it could mean the Achilles issue - and all the related problems - end up costing him a full year of his career.
An October return would see him miss the start of the 2017/18 Premier League season as well as Arsenal's opening Europa League fixtures.