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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

Aaron Ramsey 'has the potential' to be Arsenal captain despite contract uncertainty, reveals Unai Emery

Wales midfielder handed armband against Atletico while Ozil was absent from matchday squad

Aaron Ramsey, right, in action for Arsenal against Atletico Madrid on Thursday. Getty Images
Aaron Ramsey, right, in action for Arsenal against Atletico Madrid on Thursday. Getty Images

Arsenal manager Unai Emery said Aaron Ramsey is in contention to be named the club's new captain, despite the midfielder entering the final year of his contract.

Wales international Ramsey was given the captain's armband for Arsenal's International Champions Cup match against Spanish side Ateltico Madrid in Singapore on Thursday. Atletico won the match in a penalty shootout after the match ended 1-1.

Following Per Mertesacker's retirement at the end of last season, Arsenal are yet to confirm the former Germany defender's replacement, and Emery admitted that he has not decided who his first captain will be since arriving at the Premier League club.

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"It’s not yet official, this decision, but I’ve said to you that I want five captains in the team," the Spaniard said. "Then we will give the numbers for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth. Aaron has the potential to be captain."

Ramsey, 27, is Arsenal's longest-serving current player having arrived 10 years ago from Cardiff City. While the midfielder is yet to commit his future to the club, Emery is hopeful a deal will be reached.

"Football changes every day. It’s not easy, but it does change," he said. "I was thinking about the match today, then preparation for the match Saturday. I think Aaron is an important player for us.

"The contract is one thing for the club and then one thing for the player. I want him to stay with us, to work with us, to give the team big performances with his quality. I think he’s going to stay here with us."

Despite being with his teammates in Singapore, Mesut Ozil was absent from the matchday squad, although he appeared at the Singapore National Stadium to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans.

Ozil's appearance in Singapore came hours after German Football Assocation (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel spoke out for the first time since the midfielder accused him and the organisation of racism during his retirement announcement on Sunday.

Grindel rejected Ozil's accusations of racism, but admitted he and the DFB should have done more to protect the midfielder from discriminatory abuse.

"I say this openly that the personal criticism has affected me," he said. "I am even more sorry for my colleagues, the many people working on a voluntary basis and the employees in the DFB, to be branded in connection with racism.

"For the federation as well as for me personally, I firmly reject this."

But Grindel acknowledged that he should have stepped in firmly to end the abuse against Ozil over a controversial photograph with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which led some to question the footballer's loyalty to Germany.

"On hindsight, I should have clearly said what is obvious to me personally and to all of us as a federation: any form of racist hostility is unbearable, unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," he said.

"That's valid in the case of Jerome Boateng, that's valid for Mesut Ozil, and also valid for all players who have a migration background."

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