By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Per Mertesacker has claimed his Arsenal career is not over but hinted he could leave the club in January.
The former Germany international has made 208 appearances since sealing a move from Werder Bremen back in 2011 but his contract in north London is due to expire at the end of the season.
Mertesacker, 32, has been out since the start of the season with a knee injury that is expected to sideline him until the new year.
Arsenal responded to the injury crisis that also robbed them of Gabriel at the start of the campaign by signing Shkodran Mustafi for £35million from Valencia.
Arsene Wenger handed Mertesacker the Gunners captaincy this summer and he was a regular in the team up until his injury.
But Mustafi has established an increasingly formidable partnership with Laurent Koscielny, which the German may struggle to split when he returns.
The World Cup winning centre-back is upbeat about his chances of working his way back into Wenger’s first-team but recognises that his future at the club is up in the air.
‘I know that I need to allow myself time. The more time I allow my knee, the longer I’ll be able to play football,’ Mertesacker told Kicker, as quoted by Metro.
‘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.
‘I look at the perspectives for me and my family, and I think that I’ll intensify those thoughts from January on.
‘That’s also the time when you can listen to other things [offers] when your contract is expiring.’
Mustafi and Koscielny have laid the foundations for an excellent run of results from Arsene Wenger’s side.
Sunday’s 1-0 win over Burnley was Arsenal’s fifth consecutive triumph in all competitions and the fourth match in a row in which they had kept a clean sheet.
The last Premier League goal an opposing player scored against Arsene Wenger’s side from open play was Roberto Pereyra for Watford at the back-end of August.
Arsenal are third in the Premier League after accumulating 16 points from their opening seven games of the season.
In other Arsenal transfer news, a £140,000-a-week playmaker has signed a deal with the Londoners.