Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker thinks he will be an "important" figure for the Gunners once he returns from injury. The 32-year-old German suffered a severe knee injury in July and despite the arrival of Shkodran Mustafi during the summer transfer window, Mertesacker is convinced he still has a key role to play this season.

Mertesacker is currently working on his comeback at a rehabilitation clinic in Donaustauf, Germany, and is determined not to return to action too soon. The centre-back said a steady recovery from his injury can help to extend his playing career.

"I know that I need to allow myself time," the Arsenal club captain explained, according to Kicker, the German football magazine. "The more time I allow my knee, the longer I'll be able to play football."

Mertesacker said, too, that he has been making a good recovery. "I can increase the workload already and I am no longer in pain," said Mertesacker, who hopes to return to full training in November. "I believe that I can reach a level again on which I am important for the team. I have the feeling that this is not the end."

Mertesacker's Arsenal contract expires at the end of the current campaign and the German admitted his injury rehabilitation is central to his future at the Emirates Stadium. "I look at the perspectives for me and my family, and I think that I'll intensify those thoughts from January on," he said. "That's also the time when you can listen to other things [offers] when your contract is expiring."