Borussia Dortmund head coach Peter Stoger has not ruled out the prospect of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returning to the squad for Saturday's (27 January) Bundesliga meeting with SC Freiburg despite persistent rumours over a big-money move to Arsenal for the wantaway striker.
Aubameyang made the last of his 23 competitive appearances in 2017-18 - and scored the most recent of his 21 goals from the penalty spot - in the 2-1 win over Hoffenheim on 16 December, BVB's final match before the mid-season winter break.
The prolific Gabon international was omitted from the goalless draw with Wolfsburg on 14 January due to a third disciplinary issue in 12 months and initially looked as if he might play at Hertha Berlin last Friday night before once again being left at home as speculation over a switch to the Premier League continued to gather pace.
Many might not have expected Aubameyang to play for Dortmund again until the current transfer saga is fully resolved, though Stoger appears content for him to be part of the squad as things stand.
However, he admits that could change depending on how the relentless conjecture impacts his squad as the week goes on.
"Today is Wednesday and everything is fine by me," he said, per The Mirror. "If I had the impression that he would disturb the team then I would react differently.
"If I get the impression nearer to Saturday that it's disturbing the team then I won't select him for the squad."
Arsenal have identified Aubameyang as part of their plan to replace influential Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, who finally joined Manchester United on Monday [22 January] evening in a rare straight swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move in the opposite direction.
The Gunners dispatched a transfer delegation consisting of chief executive Ivan Gazidis, head of recruitment Sven Mislintat and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy to Dortmund last weekend before seeing an opening bid worth £43m ($61m) dismissed.
An improved offer in excess of £50m is now said to have been tabled, per the Evening Standard, with Dortmund holding out for approximately £55m for an influential player who has netted 141 times in 212 matches across all competitions since moving to North Rhine-Westphalia from Saint-Etienne in 2013.
BVB also reportedly want to include Olivier Giroud as part of any agreement - something that Arsenal are reluctant to do.
Arsene Wenger claimed on Tuesday [23 January] that the club were indeed in talks over Aubameyang, who some suggest has already agreed personal terms, but reiterated that no deal was close and that negotiations had not progressed as far as to discuss a possible part-exchange. He also insisted that Arsenal were looking at other targets before the 31 January deadline.
With the rumour mill stuck in permanent overdrive, Stoger is eager for Dortmund to gain some clarity on the situation sooner rather than later.
"All I can say is that we would like to have a solution at some point, no matter what it looks like," he said. "Clarity would do us good as a team."