Football

Waiting on Wenger

Oezil will not commit to new deal until Arsenal manager's future is sorted out

Mesut Oezil will not sign a new deal at Arsenal until he gets clarity on Arsene Wenger's long-term future.

The Germany international has yet to pen a fresh contract at the Emirates Stadium, with his current deal having 18 months left to run.

It was reported last month that both Oezil and teammate Alexis Sanchez are seeking parity with the English Premier League's top earners before putting pen to paper on extensions.

Oezil, Arsenal's club-record signing, has missed the last three games through illness, but is a major part of Wenger's search for silverware.

The 28-year-old has hit nine goals this season and he said Wenger's presence is the main reason he is at Arsenal.

HENRY SLAMS OEZIL

Wenger has been at the helm for over 20 years, but his own deal expires at the end of the season and Oezil is keen to know what the future holds for the Frenchman before he commits beyond 2018.

"I feel very, very good with Arsenal and have shown my willingness to extend my contract with the club," Oezil told German magazine Kicker.

"The fans want me to stay. Now it's down to the club.

"The club know that I'm here above all because of Arsene Wenger, who brought me here and whose trust in me I enjoy.

"The club also know that I want to have clarity about what the manager is doing."

He also played down suggestions he was holding out for a bumper pay-rise and reacted with indifference to recent comments made by former Arsenal favourite Thierry Henry.

Speaking on Sky Sports before Christmas, Henry said both Sanchez and Oezil were holding the club "hostage" over their wage demands.

But Oezil said the club's all-time record goalscorer does not know enough about the situation to be able to comment.

"Everyone has the right to say their views," he said.

"But these comments don't interest me. Such former players or other people who weigh in with their opinions don't know what's actually being said between the club and me."

Wenger has said he does not want to discuss his own future until towards the end of the campaign and has insisted he will not let Oezil and Sanchez leave before their contracts expire, even if they end up going for free.

One player Wenger is prepared to discuss is striker Danny Welbeck, who found life tough during his long injury absence.

The England international, who has endured two injury-ravaged seasons, made his first appearance of the current campaign as an 83rd-minute substitute in Saturday's FA Cup third-round win at Preston.

Welbeck suffered knee cartilage damage last May, just three months after he had returned from another long-term knee injury.

The 26-year-old former Manchester United forward consequently missed Euro 2016 and Wenger admits it was a difficult time.

Wenger said: "He went through desperation because the setback he had was absolutely atrocious.

BELOTTI BID DENIED

"The patience you need when you're that age - and to miss the European Championship on top of that, after missing the start of the season - it was terrible.

"But he worked hard and certainly it will make him stronger, what happened to him.

"He had to go through it and that was a very difficult moment for him. He suffered a lot, but I hope - touch wood - that he now will have a clean career."

Meanwhile, Torino's claim that Arsenal made a bid of £55 million (S$97m) for striker Andrea Belotti has been disputed in north London.

The Serie A club's director of sport Gianluca Petrachi said on Sunday that a bid had been received, but it's believed Arsenal deny making such an offer.

Petrachi told Sky Sport Italia that Torino had rejected a £55m bid from the Gunners for the Italy international.

- PA SPORT

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