Jean-Philippe Gbamin has opened the door to a summer transfer away from Mainz, with the reported Arsenal target eager to take “the next step” 12 months on from seeing a move blocked.
In 2018, interest built steadily in the highly-rated 23-year-old who can operate as a centre-half or holding midfielder.
Several Premier League sides were said to be keen on landing the Ivory Coast international, with a £31 million ($40m) bid tabled at one stage.
Mainz knocked that back, with sporting director Rouven Schroeder stating that “Jean-Phillipe is not on the market”.
They may be forced to alter that stance in 2019, with Gbamin admitting that he is ready for a new challenge.
He told Goal and Spox: “I basically feel ready for the next step and can well imagine starting a new chapter.
“Through my achievements, I have made clubs aware of me, where I see a good chance to go to this next stage in my sporting and personal development.
“At the moment I give 100 per cent for Mainz and I am very satisfied with how much we have improved. What will happen after the season, we have to wait and see.”
Gbamin added: “I have taken the development that I had hoped for myself.
“The first season was a year of apprenticeship in a league unknown to me. In the second year, I’ve been able to implement what I’ve learned a lot better and show what I really can do.
“That’s why I went to Germany. But I can promise that this is not the end. I am convinced of my abilities and I am getting even better!”
Having joined Mainz from Lens in 2016, Gbamin admits that he was disappointed to see another step up the ladder denied him last year.
He said: “Of course, the stance of the club initially frustrated me. Anything else would not be normal, I would say.
“I assumed that a transfer was possible. That’s why I made that public. It ultimately turned out differently.
“That was not a problem for me, because something like that happens in football. As soon as I realised that the door was closed, life went on.
“Afterwards I trained as usual and I think I can say that my performances did not suffer. Mentally, that did not stop me at all.”
Gbamin’s impressive progress in Germany has allowed him to become a senior international, with the decision taken to represent the Ivory Coast in 2017 having previously turned out for France at youth level.
On that decision, he said: “When [Herve] Renard called, I had just signed my first professional contract and wanted to consciously take the time to decide.
“At the time, that was just too early for me. I just wanted to develop myself as a player. It was logical for me to commit three years later.
“I never wanted to wait for France. My entire family comes from the Ivory Coast, so it was a matter of the heart for me.”
Gbamin has become a regular in the Ivorian set-up but was unable to help guide The Elephants to the 2018 World Cup.
“That was the biggest disappointment of my career so far,” he added.
“After all, only one victory was missing to be in Russia. All the players were devastated, the entire country suffered with us.
“We must now make sure that we improve as a team, because once again I do not want to miss a World Cup.”