London (AFP) – Mesut Ozil will return to the Arsenal squad for Saturday’s Premier League visit of Burnley, with manager Unai Emery saying he believes the midfielder has a future at the Emirates Stadium.
Ozil did not make the substitutes’ bench for the League Cup quarter-final defeat to rivals Tottenham in midweek and has been on the fringes of the team in recent weeks.
He missed four recent games with a back problem but has started just once since November 11 — and that was a Europa League dead rubber at home to Qarabag.
The 30-year-old was a mainstay in the Gunners side under previous manager Arsene Wenger but Emery has shown he has no issue with keeping the club’s highest-paid player on the sidelines.
Asked if Ozil will be in the squad to face Burnley, Emery said: “Yes. I want every player with a good mentality to help us and give us their characteristics and quality. We need Mesut Ozil.
“Every player wants to play and be OK to help the team when we need. The frustration is the same for everybody when they didn’t play in a match.
“But I spoke with him and with regularity in the season. I am telling him what we need from him and he has the commitment to help us and the quality and the characteristics to help us when the team needs his moments in the pitch in one game. Tomorrow he is in the 18 players, in the squad.”
Ozil’s lack of game-time has led to rumours linking him with a January move away from the club, although when asked if the former Germany international has a future at Arsenal, Emery replied: “Yes, why not?”
It remains to be seen what role Ozil plays at the weekend but it appears unlikely that captain Laurent Koscielny will feature.
The 33-year-old has recently returned from a serious Achilles issue that had kept him out since May.
He started against both Qarabag and Southampton and came on at the interval against Spurs but, despite being without a number of injured defenders, Emery is keen not to ask too much of Koscielny at a delicate stage of his comeback.
“Koscielny is OK but he played two matches this week and tomorrow will be a lot for him,” he said.
“We also need to be calm with him, to take time for a lot of matches before he continues playing. But I trust him and we have solutions for who can play in this position.”
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