Mesut Ozil has admitted that Arsenal would be "hit hard" by the departure of Alexis Sanchez if the striker opted to leave the club in the summer.
It goes without saying that Sanchez's future at the Emirates has become one of the most widely-speculated stories of the past 12 months and, with the Chile international no closer to revealing his next career move is, will fill up gossip columns for some time to come.
Speaking to Sky Sports down in Sydney as Arsenal's first-team squad completes a pre-season tour of Australia and China, Ozil was asked about his teammate's future in north London and the Germany international maintained that losing a player of Sanchez's calibre would pose a significant blow to their title aspirations.
OFFICIAL: Arsenal have unveiled their new third kit for the 2017/18 season.— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) July 12, 2017
Feat. Alexis Sánchez. pic.twitter.com/Zwjnioh2UN
He said: "It would hit the team quite hard if he left because he's a player who always delivers. It would be a setback to winning the title, but in the end it's the player's decision.
"I hope Alexis stays but I don't know what the status is, to be honest. I value him a lot as a player and he's very well suited to the game Arsenal play.
"From a personal view I'd really appreciate if he stays, but it's the player's decision after all and there's not much more I can comment on that."
New signing Sead Kolasinac has been given the number 31 shirt, while Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil maintain no 7 and 11 shirts respectively.— Blessing Jonathan (@Preciousb2011) July 11, 2017
Ozil himself is yet to commit his future to Arsenal too, with the playmaker also in the same boat as Sanchez after he entered the final 12 months of his current deal with the Gunners.
However, the 28-year-old revealed he is open to remaining with the FA Cup winners if he can come to an agreement with them.
He claimed (via Arsenal's official site): "It is definitely my preference to stay. It is such a great club and I have always said that I feel very good at Arsenal. Once everyone is back in London we will sit down and discuss about the future.
"For now the most important thing is our pre-season and getting through the tour, training and getting fitness. When I'm back in London, we will sit down and discuss."
Sanchez is currently on an extended summer break following his international excursions at the 2017 Confederations Cup, but Arsenal fans were given hope over him staying after the 28-year-old was used as part of the club's third kit reveal in Sydney on Wednesday.
Per Mertesacker, who is also part of Arsene Wenger's travelling party down under, added to Ozil's comments by stating his desire to play alongside Sanchez next term in what will be his final season before the veteran defender hangs up his boots.
He added: "I think he (Sanchez) wants to come back quick as possible. He hates holidays and hates resting.
"I'm really looking forward to playing alongside him in my last season, and I think he thinks the same."