Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker has left the door open to a possible exit next summer, with a return to Germany appealing to him.
The 32-year-old is set to see his current contract with the Gunners expire at the end of the season, thus leading to natural doubts over his long-term future in north London.
While there’s still a chance that he will negotiate a new deal, the arrival of compatriot Shkodran Mustafi could complicate matters, as it may well push him down the pecking order at the Emirates given the summer signing’s form so far this season.
The former Valencia defender looks a solid fit alongside Laurent Koscielny, with the pair helping the Gunners keep three consecutive clean sheets in recent weeks.
Add Gabriel to the mix too, and Mertesacker may feel as though he’ll struggle for first-team opportunities next season, in the event that he does put pen-to-paper on a new deal.
Mertesacker is currently still sidelined with a knee injury he picked up in pre-season, and with his future coming under question, he has revealed he would be open to returning to Germany if a new contract with Arsenal isn’t agreed.
“I am a 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?”
Further, Martin Bader, Hannover’s club executive has insisted that the former German international would be welcomed back to his former club, where he spent 13 years after coming through the youth ranks before making 74 league appearances for the senior side.
“We all know what Hannover means for Per, and maybe we can get him enthusiastic about Hannover 96 again,” he 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.”
Time will tell where Mertesacker’s long-term future lies, but a return to Germany will likely become a more realistic possibility if there is no new contract put on the table by Arsenal.