Per Mertesacker believes the serious knee injury he suffered in July will not spell the end of his career at Arsenal.
Mertesacker has not featured for Arsene Wenger’s side since suffering the problem during pre-season and is not expected to return to fitness until the early stages of 2017.
Summer arrival Shkodran Mustafi has formed a solid partnership with Laurent Koscielny during the early stages of the campaign and Mertesacker’s role as an automatic starter at the Emirates Stadium appears to be in jeopardy.
But the former Germany international, whose contract expires at the end of the season, is determined to stay upbeat and is adamant he could still have a key role to play for the Gunners.
“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,” Mertesacker told Kicker.
"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.”
Given that Mertesacker is 32 concerns have been raised in regards to his ability to get back to the top level, having already entered the twilight years of his career.
But the central defender believes giving himself enough time will be the most crucial factor in his recovery as rushing back too early could curtail his career.
"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.
“I can increase the workload already and I am no longer in pain,” he added.
Captain curse strikes again
Can’t see him getting another contract. Probs back to Bundesliga on a free then? Been a brilliant servant to Arsenal football club but like Arteta his time has passed.