Arsenal manager Unai Emery did little to quell suspicion that he might be prepared to sell midfielder Mesut Ozil, repeatedly refusing to say on Wednesday that he wants to hold on to the German playmaker.
Ozil, who joined the Gunners from Real Madrid in 2013 for a then-record 42 million pounds ($53 million), has been left out of the side regularly in the last two months, at first due to a back sprain and then – according to Emery – because of the physicality of some opponents.
The player, whose contract is due to keep him at Arsenal until 2021, was also not on the teamsheet for his side’s 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup quarter-finals at the Emirates on Wednesday.
“It’s a tactical decision because I thought that the players that were with us today were the best choices for this match,” Emery told reporters when asked about the Ozil’s absence.
Asked if he would consider offers from other clubs for Ozil in the January transfer window, Emery was evasive.
“My focus now is analysis of this (Wednesday’s) match and also Saturday against Burnley,” he said, referring to Arsenal’s next league fixture.
When asked directly if 30-year-old Ozil has a future at the club, he repeated: “I am thinking about the match on Saturday and not thinking about another situation.”
Emery also played down the suggestion that Ozil, for years the most expensive player on Arsenal’s payroll and believed to be earning around 350,000 pounds a week, was a star player.
“Every player is important,” Emery said.
The speculation over Ozil’s future comes as the club prepares to lose the services of long-time midfielder Aaron Ramsey, whose contract extension talks with Arsenal broke down in September.