Arsenal manager Unai Emery praised an “improved” Mesut Ozil but refused to give any guarantees Thursday of a recall after a miserable start to the season for the German playmaker.
Ozil, 31, has made just one Premier League appearance this season and has not even been selected in Emery’s squad for the past three matches.
The Arsenal boss admitted that the car-jacking attempt targeting Ozil and team-mate Sead Kolasinac in July had disturbed the midfielder’s pre-season but said the former Real Madrid player was slowly winning his confidence back in training.
“With Mesut, this year started in a difficult way for him. In pre-season he worked well and was playing matches, but then he had the problems with Sead and it stopped,” Emery said.
“The last two or three weeks, he’s improved with us in training and I think he’s feeling good.
“I didn’t promise him that he’d play because I want to make sure he’s ready and is available in training, and also giving us every day a good feeling in training, then he can play.
“My idea is to use every player and he is one in the squad. He has very big skills, the quality we will need in the next matches.”
Ozil, the club’s highest earner, told The Athletic that despite his lack of game time, he has no plans to walk away from the club until his contract expires in two years’ time.
“You can go through difficult times, like this, but that is no reason to run away and I’m not going to,” said Ozil. “I’m here until at least 2021.”
However, Ozil may be forced further down the pecking order by the return of Alexandre Lacazette.
The French international striker has been sidelined for the past six weeks by an ankle injury, but is set to return for the trip to Sheffield United on Monday.
“It’s positive for us that he’s started training and that he’s a possibility for Monday,” said Emery.
“I don’t know whether he’s ready for 90 minutes or on the bench. We’ll decide that over the next days, but it’s very important for him to come back to training with us.”