Per Mertesacker says he can still be an important player for Arsenal as he recovers from a knee injury picked up in pre-season.
The Germany international is yet to feature for the Gunners this season and is not expected to return to action until later this year.
In his absence new signing Shkodran Mustafi has struck up a good relationship with Laurent Koscienly in the heart of the Arsenal defence with the duo having help to keep clean sheets in their last three games against Burnley, Basel and Chelsea.
However, Mertesacker is upbeat about his recovery from injury and feels he still has a role to play within the team.
“I know that I need to allow myself time,” he told Kicker. “The more time I allow my knee, the longer I’ll be able to play football. I can increase the workload already and I am no longer in pain.
“I believe that I can reach a level again on which I am important for the team. I have the feeling that this is not the end.”
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Mertesacker who turned 32 in September, is out of contract in the summer but says he has not started to think about his future just yet.
“I look at the perspectives for me and my family, and I think that I’ll intensify those thoughts from January on,” he said.
“That’s also the time when you can listen to other things [offers] when your contract is expiring.
“Six, seven teams can play for the title and we are one of those. But it’s all about consistency.
“I’ve got a feeling regarding this squad. I can now see that the new signings have done us good. Arsene Wenger now has a lot of options, maybe more than he ever had.”
How Mertesacker comes back from injury is likely to prove key in whether they club opts to offer him a new contract. However, the arrival of Mustafi and his burgeoning relationship with Koscielny certainly looks to be the future for Arsenal at centre-back.