MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho has refused to rule out a move for Arsenal contract rebel Mesut Ozil.
The German playmaker is in the final year of his deal at the Emirates and will leave on a free transfer at the end of the season if new terms cannot be agreed.
Mourinho, who worked with Ozil for three years at Real Madrid, has previously hailed him as "the best No. 10 in the world." The Portuguese coach has struggled to find a player to fill the role at Old Trafford.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a £30 million signing from Borussia Dortmund 18 months ago, is expected to be left out of the squad again when Manchester United face Ozil's Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday evening.
United have been linked with Ozil. And when asked directly whether he will try to sign the 29-year-old, Mourinho mischievously replied with a smile: "No comment."
Sources have told ESPN FC that Ozil has not made a decision about his future, but that he remains open to the idea of staying in the Premier League with another club.
Arsene Wenger has insisted Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, who is also into the last year of his contract, will not be sold in January -- although that resolve would be tested with offers in the region of £25 million for either player.
Mourinho is facing his own issue with Marouane Fellaini -- unavailable against Arsenal because of a knee injury -- set to be a free agent in the summer.
And he says players who run down their contracts are taking a risk.
He said: "Sometimes players decide to go in this direction, which is the right that they have, they gamble, they gamble because, you know, imagine one of these players has a big knee injury. If one of these players has one of these injuries, probably next season, he is without a club.
"Players have the right to do that and I don't blame the clubs because the clubs, they try.
"They try, they try, but the players they have the right to go into this type of situation and in many times it is good for them, because they sometimes go on a free transfer and they can get huge salaries, other times the clubs, to keep them, they make an extra effort and they go with them also to very high salaries.
"And I repeat, I am not speaking about Alexis or Ozil, I am speaking about the general situation even as managers some of us, we prefer to let the contract go until the last year and in the last year we make the decision to stay, to leave, you know, it's a risk for everyone, but sometimes, the risk works, and that's football."
Mourinho heads to Arsenal this weekend looking for his first away win at a top-six rival since taking over at Old Trafford.
So far seven Premier League games away from home against Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham have yielded three points and just one goal.
United lost 2-0 at the Emirates last season -- Wenger's first competitive win over Mourinho -- although the United manager suggested it was best to "forget" the result because of his decision to field a weakened team as he pursued the Europa League.
Mourinho, though, was complimentary about an Arsenal team who have won their last 12 league games at home. United need to win if they hope to keep pace with Manchester City, who face West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
"I think they defend very well," Mourinho said at a news conference on Friday.
"They defend better than they did recent years. I think they adapted well to play with the five defenders. I think they are strong.
"They are defending much better and they kept the good qualities in attack, with creativity, with combination football and the talent of key players. I think they are a good team."
Ozil has been a large part of that creativity, scoring one and making two more in the 5-0 win over Huddersfield on Wednesday.