By Will Butcher
Arsenal are considering a loan move for club captain Per Mertesacker as he looks to prove he deserves a new contract, according to a report.
The Times have revealed that the Gunners will allow the 32-year-old to leave the Emirates Stadium this month, so the 6ft 6in centre-back can prove he deserves a renewed contract.
Arsenal’s number four has less than six months remaining on his current contract, but has failed to feature for Arsene Wenger’s side this season due to injury.
However, the Gunners will not allow him to join a Premier League side as Jack Wilshere continues to shine at Bournemouth. The report claims a return to Germany is likely.
The 104-time Germany international suffered a long-term knee problem in a pre-season friendly against RC Lens, before suffering a calf injury that has kept him sidelined until now.
But after signing the likes of Englishman Rob Holding and fellow countryman Shkodran Mustafi, Mertesacker has plummeted down the pecking order.
Nothing will happen immediately – the report claims the club will wait until the end of the month to see if he will be fit for first-team action by the Champions League knockout deadline of February 1. If not, they will consider the loan move.
Football Insider verdict:
Allowing Mertesacker to leave on loan will prove beneficial for the Gunners. With plenty of cover at the heart of the defence, it makes sense for the defender to leave north London as he looks to guarantee regular playing time ahead of his imminent return from injury. Manager Wenger is unable to provide that for Mertesacker, with intermittent appearances likely to halt his progress as he looks to return to the form that saw him keep 17 clean sheets in 36 league and cup appearances throughout the 2015-16 campaign. A return to his home country could also buoy the defender, which may see him return to form and become an asset to Wenger at the back ahead of the 2017-18 campaign. However, at his age, and with Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny solid as number one choices, it’s unlikely that Mertesacker will be any more than a squad player for Arsenal now and that might not be enough for him.
In other Arsenal transfer news, fans have reacted on Twitter after Cohen Bramall confirmed his move to the Gunners.