Mesut Ozil and Sokratis will not play for Arsenal in the Premier League before January, with real doubts if they’ll ever play another game for the club.
Having already faced the ignominy of being excluded from the squad registered with Uefa for the group stages of Europa League, Mikel Arteta made the decision to also cut the duo from his domestic competition roster.
Having failed to move players on during the transfer window, the Gunners had no choice but to cut two high-profile stars because they could only register 17 of their 19 non-homegrown players.
While Arsenal can revise their squad list in January, Ozil and Sokratis, who are both out of contract next summer, face big decisions about their future. Do they stick things out at Arsenal and risk no competitive football for the rest of the season? Or do they look to engineer a move in January and salvage half a year of their careers? Both can sign pre-contract agreements with foreign clubs from January if they choose the former route.
Ozil and his representatives have stated several times in the last year that the World Cup winner has no intention of leaving the club prematurely. It remains to be seen whether he maintains that stance given the midfielder, according to The Athletic (£), recently picked up an £8 million loyalty bonus for staying into the final year of the contract.
It’s unclear what Sokratis, who came close to leaving the club in the last transfer window, thinks about the circumstances he finds himself in. There were rumours that he was hoping the club might cancel his contract, thereby allowing him to leave outside the transfer window, but no such arrangement has yet been made.
Last week, Mikel Arteta admitted that he has a tough job on his hands motivating those players who know they won’t get game time in the Europa League. Presumably, he informed the players about their exclusion from the Premier League squad at the same time.
“It was a very difficult conversation,” he said. “The last thing you want is to be cut just because of a restriction in the roster [on numbers]. You want to give them the opportunity that if they do well to have the opportunity to play and help us on the pitch.
“This is the issue we have. We knew that before the transfer window, we tried to resolve that, we tried to get some players opportunities elsewhere. We weren’t able to do that and now it’s just to keep them motivated, to make them still feel part of what we do and give them support.
“When they know they are not playing and not going to be playing week in, week out, it’s a really tough thing.”
William Saliba, who was left out of our Europa League squad, is included for the Premier League as one of our very many U21 players, a group which also includes the likes of Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock.
You can see the full list of all Premier League squads here – including the rather bizarre inclusion of Petr Cech at Chelsea.