Mikel Arteta has dropped his strongest hint yet that Mesut Ozil could yet return to action in an Arsenal shirt one day.
The German midfielder has been completely frozen out of the team since March.
And he was left out of both the Gunners’ Premier League and Europa League squads, meaning he is not able to feature until February at the earliest.
With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, Ozil is widely expected to leave the club sooner rather than later.
But when asked about the player ahead of his side’s game against Burnley on Sunday, Arteta refused to rule out the prospect of what would be a sensational return to the fold for Ozil.
“He’s not in the squad right now,” Arteta said. “I’m focusing just on the players we have here.
“But, whatever happens in January, we have some time to decide.”
Ozil’s former manager Arsene Wenger recently had his say on the situation, and appeared to aim a subtle dig at the way Arteta has handled the player.
“You have two ways to see a football team,” he said.
“You get everybody to do the same – the same intensity of work, the same defensive work – or you find a compromise.
“You have a more creative player in the team who can do less defensive work but you build a team around him who can compensate for these deficiencies.
“That is what you have to think about.”
Arsenal are under huge pressure to get a win against Burnley after tasting victory in just one of their last seven Premier League games.
They are languishing down in 15th place in the table and desperately need a win from somewhere to kick-start their hugely disappointing campaign so far.