Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal are not looking to sell Shkodran Mustafi during the January transfer window.
The German defender is out of contract this summer and can leave for free at the end of the season.
Mustafi, 28, struggled for a few minutes this quarter, having regained his form after a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the FA Cup final victory over Chelsea on August 1.
Speaking in October, he said it “would mean a lot” to stay at Arsenal amid reports he had rejected a new deal at Emirates Stadium.
It wasn’t a permanent fixture on Arteta’s side, with the Gunners boss having several options at center-back.
But, having let William Saliba go on loan and admitting that Greece international Sokratis Papastathopoulos is due to leave in the next few days, Arteta wants to keep his hand on Mustafi for now.
“His future right now is here,” replied the Spaniard when asked about the situation with Mustafi.
“I’m trying to help. We have Papa who is probably going to leave the club in that window, William who’s already been on loan, so we don’t have a lot at the moment.
“Gabriel has been away for a while, David (Luiz) has been injured so the situation is completely different from before.”
Having been sidelined at the start of the current campaign, Mustafi has been widely deployed in cup competitions and has only made three replacement Premier League appearances so far.
With fellow defenders Rob Holding – who signed a new contract on Tuesday – and Pablo Mari currently enjoying a successful partnership, Arteta admits the odds have been slim for Mustafi, but says the opportunity could still present itself.
“Musti came back from a very difficult injury when he was injured at the end of last season,” he added.
“Until that period I think he was doing very well, I think his performances were improving and improving more and more.
“When he came back it was a time when we had seven or eight center-backs so he had to improve his level of performance.
“I think physically he still needed time, and then he started playing a few games in Europe, which I think he did well too.
“And now it’s about when to take the next step to be a starter, and the reality is we have to change for different reasons, use different staff.
“He’s been really close in a few games, but now we’ve also found a partnership that gives us clean sheets and sometimes when you do that it’s hard to change, but he’s still in contention.”