Arsenal manager Unai Emery insists he is ‘happy’ with Mesut Ozil and is ready to play the German after his performances picked up in training.
The playmaker – who earns £350,000 a week – has made only two appearances for the Gunners this season but Emery says he has not ‘closed’ the door on the German’s future.
After remaining tight-lipped in recent months, Ozil broke his silence on Thursday. He hit back at his critics and insisted he had no plans to leave before the end of his contract, which runs until the summer of 2021.
He told The Athletic he felt he had become a scapegoat, claiming: ‘If we don’t do well in a big game, it’s always my fault.’
In the summer, Ozil’s season was disrupted when he and team-mate Sead Kolasinac were attacked by armed thugs. The playmaker has since recovered mentally and physically but has nevertheless been left out of the past three matchday squads.
Speaking ahead of Monday’s trip to Sheffield United, however, Emery insisted the German is in his plans.
‘This year started difficult for him. He worked well in pre-season and he was playing in the games. But then the problem he had along with Sead stopped him. After that he was sick for one week and then he lost a lot of training to keep his fitness. But in the last two to three weeks he’s improved with us in training and I think it’s good,’ he said.
‘I didn’t close the possibility for him to play. Because I want him to be OK and ready with being available for training and giving us a good feeling every day. Then he can play.
‘My idea is to use every player and he is one. The player can help us. He has very big skills and one quality we will need in the next matches. Really I am happy now how he is improving and training every day. He is one player more in that squad.’
With Arsenal facing a busy run of seven matches in 19 days, Ozil is likely to return to first-team action in the coming weeks.
Emery recently claimed that other players ‘deserved’ to be picked ahead of the playmaker. Now, though, the Arsenal boss insisted the German – who has managed only 142 minutes of action so far this season – is back in the frame.
‘When I said that it was because at the moment maybe physically, maybe also with more rhythm and maybe more it depends what we need from other players in each match, then they were in front of him at that moment.
‘But now I am telling you I am feeling better with him every day in training and also he is another possibility in the squad now to play and to help us.’