Unai Emery says Mesut Ozil has shown an improvement in training in the last few weeks and made clear that the door to first team football is not shut for the German.
Despite a promising pre-season that saw him earn praise from his coach, Ozil has featured only twice so far this season, once apiece in the Premier League and League Cup.
There have been mitigating circumstances, not least the moped attack he and Sead Kolasinac experienced on the eve of the new campaign, but it’s widely acknowledged that the club’s highest earner has fallen down the pecking order in the eyes of the coaching team who preferred to give game time to the club’s Academy prospects.
Ahead of Monday’s game with Sheffield United, Emery said: “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. After that problem, he was sick one week and then he lost a lot of training to continue working and [finding] his feet.
But 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. I am happy now with how he’s improving and training every day. He is one player more in the squad.”
At the start of the month, justifying his decision to exclude Ozil, Emery said other players were more deserving of a place.
Asked to clarify his comments, the Spaniard said: “It’s because at that moment maybe physically, maybe also with more rhythm, it depends on each match what we need.
“Other players were in front of him at this moment. Now, I am telling you I am feeling better with him every day in training and he is another possibility in the squad now to play and to help us.”
For his part, Ozil, in an interview with The Athletic’s David Ornstein, made clear that he’s happy to stay at the Emirates and fight for his place, going so far as to state that he has no intention of leaving before his current deal expires in 2021.
He said: “I want to be part of the side, I want to support my team-mates to succeed. I’m not training all the time just for the sake of it, I’m ready to play.
“This should not be about me or the coach, only the club. I have to give everything, be fit and focused, and I’m training hard to be ready.”