Unai Emery is unsure whether deposed captain Granit Xhaka will play for Arsenal again.
The Switzerland midfielder has not featured for the Gunners since being stripped of the armband following his angry riposte towards supporters who jeered him as he was substituted in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on October 27.
Xhaka did not make himself available for the midweek Europa League trip to Vitoria SC and is absent again for Saturday’s visit to Leicester City.
A January exit from north London appears an increasingly likely scenario, with Newcastle United thought to be keen to offer him an escape route, while a return to the Bundesliga is said to be a possibility.
When answering a question as to whether the upcoming international break could be good timing to let the situation defuse, Emery could not give any assurances about the future.
“As a coach, I have the responsibility of the team. We need one player [like] Granit Xhaka, but also I don’t know if he’s going to play again. I don’t know,” he said on Friday.
“The first thing is if he’s available in his mind to continue to help us and defend the Arsenal shirt. And then it’s if I decide to start him or not with us.
Back to the training pitches.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 8, 2019
“At the beginning if he’s ready and available and 100 per cent in his mind with that decision to help us and to play with his quality to help us because we know we need that quality and that player.
“After we have the solution, but for example after Dani Ceballos’ injury we have one less player to use tomorrow in the midfielder, attacking midfielder [role], so we are now not ready with a lot of players to play in that position.
“I don’t know. Maybe he can play in the future, maybe he cannot play.”
Asked explicitly if Xhaka wants to leave, Emery was non-committal, replying: “I am not thinking about that because we are in November. We are going to play a lot of matches in November and December.
“He says to me he is not available yet to play, not Wednesday and not tomorrow.”