Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has hinted both Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi may have a future at the club – pointing to Granit Xhaka’s own remarkable turnaround as an example.
While Guendouzi continues to be left out after his antics in the defeat at Brighton last month, Ozil has yet to kick a ball since the season resumed.
Arteta has given short shrift to any questions asked about a potential return for the pair, with neither being named in any of the past seven matchday squads.
Guendouzi is reportedly training alone following his bust-up with Brighton’s Neal Maupay, with his temperament believed to be a concern to Arteta, who has likewise left Ozil – the club’s highest-earner – on the sidelines for the past 10 games.
While the writing may appear to be on the wall with regards to their respective futures at the club, Arteta spoke of another player who has overcome difficult times in recent months.
Former boss Unai Emery stripped Xhaka of the captaincy after he swore at Arsenal fans while being substituted during a draw with Crystal Palace in October.
Xhaka’s relationship with supporters has been mixed since his arrival in 2016 but, under Arteta, his performances have improved and he has become a major part of the side.
“The challenge with Granit was to convince him that there was still a place for him here, that I had big belief in him and that things can turn around pretty quickly in this industry,” Arteta said when asked about Xhaka’s return to form.
“He had to send the right messages, first of all he had to believe that he could do it and if that was the case we were going to support him all the way through. I am really glad to hear and sense as well the reaction from the fans towards him.
“If you are willing and if you are consistent and you really want to do it there is always a way back.”
Pushed on whether Ozil and Guendouzi could return if they show both the willing and consistency Arteta called for, the 38-year-old said: “That applies for any player and any member of the staff. All players know this.
“If you show that, that you decide to do the best not only for yourself but for the team and for the club, I think everyone will welcome you.
“It’s not just me that needs to give the green light, it’s everybody that has to be supportive. You need to feel that support from everybody because otherwise it’s a very uncomfortable situation.”
Arteta’s side take on Aston Villa on Tuesday night fresh on the heels of an FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice to secure a record 21st FA Cup final appearance for Arsenal – who had beaten Premier League champions Liverpool just three days earlier.
Aubameyang is another player whose future at the Emirates Stadium remains unclear – as his current contract expires next summer.
Speaking after the semi-final win, Arteta said he hoped such victories could convince his captain to sign a new deal and now he is keen for that agreement to come sooner rather than later.
“When I was talking about the uncertainty we have on the table, obviously he is one of them,” added Arteta.
“There is another one of obviously where we are going to finish and whether we play in Europe or not which is going to have an impact and all the situations with the market and how it is going to develop.
“With Auba, I think I have been very clear what I want – the quicker we do it, for me personally, the better because the player will be more focused, more determined and more calm but we have to respect the timings as well and the needs the football club has.”