Arsene Wenger has welcomed Per Mertesacker back to the club after a treatment break in Germany, praising his mental leadership.

The German has missed the entire season with a knee injury he picked up in pre-season and was recently back in his homeland in a bid to get fit and back playing.

Out of contract in the summer, no new deal has been forthcoming for Arsenal’s captain as the club no doubt wait to see how well he recovers from this serious problem.

Given Wenger’s comments in the Bournemouth matchday programme, he still sees value in the BFG, so as long as he is able to prove his fitness before the end of the season, a one-year extension should come his way.

Wenger said, “We’ve had a welcome addition to the squad recently – Per Mertesacker has returned from a treatment break in Germany. You know Per is a leader in the group, on a mental front as well. That’s the only attribute he can use at the moment but he’s an important part of the dressing room. He gets everybody focused and I’m sure I can rely on his help to keep the team highly motivated.”

This weekend’s match against Bournemouth comes far too soon for the centreback and it is still not quite clear when he will actually return. His initial return was estimated to be around the start of January and there seems to be no reason to amend that at this point.