December 21, 2018 / 3:41 PM / 6 months ago

Arsenal's Emery changes tune and says: 'We need Ozil'

LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal manager Unai Emery says playmaker Mesut Ozil is needed at the club and would be part of their squad to face Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Pre Season Friendly - Lazio v Arsenal - Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden - August 4, 2018 Arsenal's Mesut Ozil gestures REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

Ozil, who joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013 for a then-record 42 million pounds, has been left out of the side regularly in the last two months, at first due to a back sprain and then - according to Emery - because of the physicality of some opponents.

The 30-year-old was not in the squad for the 2-0 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday when Emery repeatedly refused to say that he wanted to hold on to the German playmaker when questioned about his future.

The Spanish coach was more positive about Ozil in a news conference on Friday, however, with fifth-placed Arsenal looking to rebound from the Spurs loss and a 3-2 defeat by struggling Southampton in the league last weekend.

“I want every player with a good mentality to help us and give us their characteristics and quality. We need Mesut Ozil,” Emery said, before adding that the player has a future in the team.

“Every player wants to play and be okay to help the team when we need. The frustration is the same for everybody when they didn’t play in a match,” he added.

“But I spoke with him and with the regularity in the season, I am telling him what we need from him and he has the commitment to help us and the quality and the characteristics to help us when the team needs his moments in the pitch in one game.

“Tomorrow he is in the 18 players, in the squad.”

Ozil’s contract is due to run until 2021, yet British media have reported the club may let him leave in January. The midfielder is one of the most expensive players on the payroll, earning a reported 350,000 pounds a week.

Arsenal have three matches before the transfer window opens as the packed festive schedule gets underway.

After their home match against Burnley, they visit Brighton & Hove Albion on Boxing Day before travelling to Anfield to face league leaders Liverpool three days later.

Ozil could get his big chance to impress Emery against Burnley as the manager revealed Armenian attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be fit for the clash. Left back Sead Kolasinac is available after he recovered from a thigh injury.

($1 = 0.7910 pounds)

Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Toby Davis

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