Mesut Ozil has released a statement expressing his disappointment at being left out of Arsenal’s Premier League squad.
With 19 non-homegrown players on the books, Arsenal had to cut two names to fit with squad profile rules. Alongside Ozil, Greek international Sokratis also missed out. The duo had already been excluded from the Europa League group stage squad for the same reasons.
While it’s not impossible for Ozil to return to the fold in the new year – clubs can re-jig their squad following the January transfer window – everything points to the German having played his final game for the club.
Writing on social media, he said:
“This is a difficult message to write to the Arsenal fans that I’ve played for over the past few years. I’m really 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 again soon. That’s why I kept silent so far.
“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 8th 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.”
As things stand, squad size limitations aside, it’s not clear how we reached a point where our highest earner and one-time record signing isn’t considered worthy of a place in the senior squad.
While Ozil fell out of favour under Unai Emery and had a bit of a bust-up with Freddie Ljungberg, he featured regularly in Mikel Arteta’s matchday squads until lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.
There have been some suggestions that Ozil’s absence is a result of his decision in December to speak out about China’s persecution of its Uighur community; a statement that the club distanced themselves from for fear of commercial repercussions in the region. It’s worth pointing out that the midfielder played 10 consecutive Premier League games for Arteta after that.
Ozil was also included in the squads for away games against Brighton and Southampton in June, not long after his teammates accepted a pay cut to minimise the financial strain on the club as it came to terms with the financial fallout of the pandemic.
When Arsenal subsequently made 55 members of staff redundant, Ozil told The Athletic that he felt his decision was justified because the club had rushed players into making a decision without all the necessary information. His agent had earlier made similar comments on Rafael Honigstein’s Steilcast podcast.
Most recently, Ozil offered to cover the wages of Jerry Quy, the Arsenal employee who fulfils the role of mascot Gunnersaurus, when he was released on a temporary basis by the club. The gesture came less than 24 hours after Thomas Partey was signed for €50 million and a few days after he picked up an £8 million bonus for staying at the club into the final year of the contract he signed in January 2018.
Ozil will be free to leave the club next summer and can speak to foreign suitors in January.