Arsenal are weighing up the decision to let Per Mertesacker head out on loan this winter in order for him to earn a new contract.
That's according to The Times' Matt Hughes (h/t Metro's Chris Davie), who reported the former Germany international's current deal ends in June, but it's unlikely he will have many opportunities to get on the pitch between now and then at the Emirates Stadium.
As such, the Gunners could be set to let him show his worth while on loan, provided they can find a team from abroad who will take him—they are unwilling to let him join another side in the English top flight.
A knee injury suffered during pre-season and a calf problem upon his return to training have prevented Mertesacker from playing a single minute this season, and he may yet be out for several more weeks.
In his absence, Shkodran Mustafi has established a successful partnership with Laurent Koscielny, as demonstrated by Squawka Football:
Mertesacker's return to fitness will not unseat either of the pair, and with the more mobile Gabriel Paulista and Rob Holding among manager Arsene Wenger's other centre-back options, the former Werder Bremen man will face stiff competition just to be their back-up.
However, Wenger has indicated to Arsenal's official website that the 32-year-old has little to prove and will likely receive an extension to his contract regardless, per Goal's Stefan Coerts:
[Santi] Cazorla and Mertesacker's contract renewal does not depend on their fitness.
We have an option on both of them and I think we will take it.
We want to keep them for their qualities as football players firstly but as well for their mental guidance. We need to have a balance between youth and experience. They are important in that.
Based on the Frenchman's comments, it seems unlikely a loan move away will be forthcoming—particularly one to prove his form or fitness.
Meanwhile, according to El Grafico Chile (h/t Metro's Coral Barry), Atletico Madrid have made Alexis Sanchez their primary target to replace Antoine Griezmann if he leaves the club in the summer.
The 28-year-old has been the Gunners' best player this season and racked up an impressive 15 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.
Arsenal shared the highlights of his sublime hat-trick against West Ham United in December:
Henry Winter of The Times believes the Chilean is crucial to Arsenal's ambitions:
ESPN FC's Mattias Karen has also hailed the former Barcelona star's attitude and commitment:
Such qualities would see him fit in well with Diego Simeone's relentless side, and he's among the relatively small number of forwards who could adequately replace Griezmann's contributions in front of goal.
If Arsenal aspire to regaining the Premier League title, they cannot afford to lose Sanchez at any cost both for his ability on the pitch and his winning mentality.
Sanchez has 18 months left on his deal at the Emirates, but Wenger is confident a new contract will be signed sooner rather than later, according to Barry. Until he does, speculation over the player's future will continue to be rife.