Arsenal defender David Luiz might have played his last game for the club following their 3-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester City with manager Mikel Arteta unsure if the Brazilian has a future at The Emirates, he said on Thursday.
Having come on as a 20th-minute substitute for the injured Pablo Mari, Luiz was sent off in Wednesday's loss at City and is suspended for ninth-placed Arsenal's trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday and the game at Southampton on June 25.
His contract expires on June 30 and when asked if Luiz had a future at the club, Arteta said: "I don't know. He is very open, he is a leader. I was sure he was going to speak to everybody and he is very direct. That's what I like and value from him and I'm going to defend him with everything I have.
"He's shown me a lot of things in his time here and his career speaks for itself."
Luiz took the blame in the dressing room after he was at fault for Raheem Sterling's opening goal and then gave away a penalty converted by Kevin De Bruyne early in the second half, with his foul on Riyad Mahrez also producing the red card.
For all his admiration of Luiz, Arteta conceded that the financial implications of the novel coronavirus may result in Arsenal letting Luiz go.
"We cannot forget the financial situation and the way Covid-19 has hit every club and the economy," he said. "We have to make big decisions.
"We have also accepted pay cuts, not only the players but also the staff and board in order to help the situation. There are consequences and the people running the club don't want to put it in a difficult situation."
Arteta also played down suggestions that the experience of playing in an empty stadium against City will be a factor when Arsenal visit Brighton, who will be resuming their campaign after the pandemic halted the Premier League in mid-March.
"I don't think it's going to be a big issue," he said. "We are all adapting and it's very strange, from the moment you travel, how you go to the stadium, the warm-ups, the game, it's all completely different."