Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker not ruling out return to Germany
Per Mertesacker says he could return to Germany if Arsenal decide against renewing his contract at the end of the season, with his former club Hannover 96 having expressed an interest.
Arsenal captain Mertesacker is in the final year of his current deal and is sidelined with a long-term knee injury he suffered in preseason and acknowledged that he is assessing his alternatives for the future.
"I am person who likes to create options for himself. Of course, I ask myself what would make sense if things were to end at Arsenal," he told German magazine kicker. "Where can I be of any help? What do I want? Could I maybe return to Germany?"
Mertesacker turned 32 in September, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed the club will assess the centre-back's contract on a "year-by-year" basis going forward.
The former Germany international was named club captain this season despite his injury, and now faces added competition even when fit after Wenger splashed £35 million on bringing in Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia.
He said on Tuesday that he hopes to be back in training in November and insisted he can still be "important" to the team this season but Mertesacker acknowledged that his future is "all connected to how you come back after such an injury."
He said: "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."
Mertesacker's first club, Hannover, have expressed an interest in signing the defender but accept their second-tier status could prove an issue.
"We all know Hannover means for Per, and maybe we can get him enthusiastic about Hannover 96 again," club executive Martin Bader told Bild. "The Per Mertesacker issue right now is not on top of our list. We're a second-division side, he's the Arsenal captain.
"A lot of things have to come together, and the first requirement would be to win promotion. It [Mertesacker return] is far away now and it sounds crazy, but a lot of things are possible in football."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.