Mikel Arteta's reluctance to hand Mesut Ozil an Arsenal lifeline continues to baffle sections of the Gunners faithful – but there may be a reason behind the manager's approach.
Ozil has not played for Arsenal since March and was not named in the squad lists for the first half of the Premier League season and the Europa League.
The German, who is one of the highest-paid players at the club, is out of contract at the end of the campaign.
The club are desperate to offload the World Cup winner this month but may have to wait until the summer, with potential suitors yet to step up their interest.
Arsenal are also looking to offload a number of out-of-favour players on loan in January to trim the squad, raising the possibility that Ozil could be registered for the second half of the season.
But according to The Athletic, Arteta holds fears over recalling Ozil to his first-team.
It is claimed that when Unai Emery backtracked and recalled Ozil to his line-up, some at the club were critical of the decision and felt it damaged his credibility.
Therefore, Arteta is intent on not making the same mistake as his predecessor.
The manager also recently admitted that the club will assess Ozil's future at the end of the January transfer window.
When asked about a potential return for the 32-year-old, Arteta told reporters: "We will see what happens in the transfer window and we will assess that at the end."
Arteta also said the club would not look to cut short the contracts of players that are not in his plans.
"You have to respect the players' contracts," he added. "What you can do is just try to be open with them, tell them your intentions, the role that they have in the team and why that is.
"They are entitled to make the decision in their lives because they have a contract here. Some would like to move because they are not playing and some would like to stay. That's something we cannot decide by ourselves."
Arsenal, who are 13th in the table on 20 points, visit struggling West Bromwich Albion later on Saturday.
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