Mesut Ozil: Arsenal have not reciprocated my loyalty
Mesut Ozil has accused Arsenal of a lack of loyalty after being left out of their Premier League squad, but vowed to keep “fighting” for his chance.
Ozil, the highest-paid player in Arsenal’s history, appears to have played his last game for the club after he was not included in their Premier League squad for the 2020/21 season.
In a statement, the 32-year-old said he was “saddened” by the decision – another blow after he was left out of their Europa League plans last week.
Ozil’s £350,000-a-week contract expires at the end of the campaign, but he promised he would “not let my eighth season at Arsenal end like this”.
“This is a difficult message to write to the Arsenal fans that I’ve played for over the past few years,” Ozil said on Instagram.
“I’m really deeply disappointed by the fact that I have not been registered for the Premier League season for the time being.
“Upon signing my new contract in 2018, I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me that this has not been reciprocated.
“As I have just found out, loyalty is hard to come by nowadays. I’ve always tried to remain positive from week to week that there’s maybe a chance to get back in the squad soon again. That’s why I kept silent so far.”
The German World Cup winner played in every Premier League game under Mikel Arteta until last season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic – and has not featured since.
He added: “Before the coronavirus break I was really happy with the development under our new coach Mikel Arteta – we’ve been on a positive way and I would say my performances were on a really good level.
“But then things changed, again, and I was not longer allowed to play football for Arsenal. What else can I say? London still feels like home, I still have many good friends in this team, and I still feel a strong connection with the fans of this club.
“No matter what, I will keep fighting for my chance and not let my eighth season at Arsenal end like this. I can promise you that this hard decision won’t change anything in my mindset – I will continue to train as best as I can and wherever possible use my voice against inhumanity and for justice.”
Wenger: Ozil-Arsenal confrontation not just down to sport
Arsene Wenger, who signed Ozil in 2013 for a then-club-record £42m, has defended the player in his new autobiography My Life in Red and White.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the former Arsenal boss said: “Mesut Ozil is an exceptional football player. What happens at the moment between him and the club looks to be more confrontational. It’s not based only on sport.
“Why is he not playing at the moment? I don’t know. When you’re a football player you have to respect the decision of your manager and fight to get the confidence back and fight to get back in the team. He can fight, contrary to what people think. He has enough quality to get back into the team, that’s down to him now.”
Asked why Ozil is not in Arteta’s plans, Wenger said: “I don’t know.
“I believe he can play in the Premier League. You practise every day and you make sure if it doesn’t work you can go and play somewhere else.”
Merson: A big gamble by Arsenal, Ozil’s wages are Wenger’s fault
Former Arsenal forward and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson:
“The lad has got talent so to keep him out of the squad completely is a big gamble by Arsenal. I don’t know if Arsenal are trying to make a stand to say they just want him out, that’s the only reason I can think of.
“It’s a sad day for Arsenal and a sad day for him. People will say: ‘He’s on £350,000, what does he care’, but it doesn’t matter how much money you have got, this lad wants to be playing football.
“I don’t think his game has changed, he plays the same way as he’s played for many years. The game is evolving and there aren’t many number 10s anymore who can just do what they want.
“The game has changed around him and he’s not been able to adapt to that. He’s been used to playing around greatness and as the Arsenal team deteriorated, his game went and he’s the one who was punished.
“Now it’s becoming a bit of a chess game. He knows he isn’t playing and he’ll say: ‘You mess me about, I’ll mess you about’. You don’t want it to end like that.
“I don’t think he gets the appreciation he deserves. His wages have affected the Arsenal fans in certain ways, that’s upset them. That wasn’t his fault, that was Arsene Wenger’s fault. What he was doing giving Ozil that kind of money, I don’t know, only he can answer that.
“This should have been done with five or six months ago, they should have sat around the table with him and swallowed a pill.
“If he digs his feet in and doesn’t play for another season, is that his career over? Maybe. Then he’ll be sitting down aged 36 or 37 thinking: ‘Why didn’t I go and play football?’
“Ozil can go anywhere in the world, if his wages are reasonable. He’s earned enough. If he wants to play football, every club in America would have him.”
Analysis: Ozil is a wasted talent
Former Arsenal striker and Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith:
“It’s sad, there’s no doubt about it because it’s a wasted talent and has been for the last couple of years. He hasn’t reached the levels that he did, four or five years back. I can’t remember a time in football when someone on so much money has been ostracised like this and has no chance at all of playing for the first team.
“But Mikel Arteta has made his choice and obviously knows things that we don’t. He’s looked at the player day in, day out. It might be down to his attitude during lockdown when he refused to take a wage cut, and he didn’t take part in team Zoom meetings so perhaps Arteta feels he’s not a team player.
“The irony is that Arsenal do need a player of that ilk at the moment, someone of Ozil’s creative force. Somebody who can unlock defences as they’ve faced a couple of those challenges recently against West Ham and Sheffield United and it was difficult for them.
“I’m sure Arteta would’ve liked to have had the Ozil of four or five years back available. I would say Arteta wields quite a lot of power there, and obviously his title changed, so I’m not sure this is a decision that has been taken out of his hands.
“With the narrowing down of the powers there with Raul Sanllehi going, Arteta – along with the director of football Edu – does call a lot of the shots. From Ozil’s point of view, this period where he’s sat tight on his contract and he’s refused to countenance a move, at the end of his career he will reflect on it being three or four years wasted.
“You only really can appreciate that at the end of your career, so from a personal point of view, he really should’ve tried to find a career elsewhere. He’s got to wait until January now, and with that then being so close to next summer, I would doubt he’ll agree to a move.
“Arteta has made his decision very clear indeed, and nobody will be asking him in the forthcoming press conferences ‘why isn’t Ozil involved?’. He’s drawn a line in the sand and he’ll be hoping to move forward.”
(c) Sky Sports 2020: Mesut Ozil: Arsenal have not reciprocated my loyalty