Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted he is uncertain as to whether Mesut Ozil will return to the Gunners' squad in January - but has dismissed the idea of terminating the players' contract early.
Ozil was not registered in Arsenal's Premier League squad ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, and has not featured for Arteta's side since their final game before lockdown on 7 March.
The World Cup winning German midfielder is one of a number of fringe players to have seen limited minutes this season, and Arteta listed trimming down the Arsenal squad as his number one priority in the January transfer window. Defender Sead Kolasinac has already joined Schalke on loan.
Ozil's £350,000-per-week contract comes to an end in June 2021, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos - another player omitted from Arsenal's Premier League squad - is also out of contract at the end of the 2020/21 campaign. However, Arteta has dismissed the suggestion of terminating their deals.
"You have to respect the players' contracts," Arteta said (via Sky Sports).
"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."
When asked whether Ozil could make a surprise return to the Arsenal first team fold in January, the Gunners boss replied: "We will see what happens in the transfer window and we will assess at the end of that."