Mikel Arteta has hinted that Arsenal won’t look to prematurely end the contracts of Mesut Ozil and Sokratis in January even though it seems unlikely the pair will be handed the chance to represent the club again.
Forced to cull two non-homegrown players from his Premier League and Europa League squads, the Spaniard made the difficult decision to axe the German and Greek for the first half of the season. While they could, in theory, be reinstated in January it seems he’s more likely to prioritise the integration of potential new recruits.
Given both players are out of contract in the summer, it’s been suggested that Arsenal could just buy them out of the remainder of their deals thereby removing an issue that has become a repeated talking point. While it sounds like Sokratis is open to a January loan move, Ozil and his representatives have made it clear he’s in no rush to seek pastures new.
Arteta doesn’t seem to have a problem with the stance of either player.
“You have to respect the players’ contracts,” he said when asked about the pair. “As I’ve said before you just have to be open with them and tell them your intentions, the role they have in the team and why that is.
“At the end, they are entitled to make a decision in their lives because they have a contract here. Some would like to move because they are not playing and some would like to stay, that’s something we can’t decide.”
Arteta also touched on the difficulties of keeping players happy when some know that they won’t get the game time they want or think they deserve.
“Communication is key, they have to understand their role,” he said. “That’s really important. In order to do that you have to be very clear from the first day, what they have to expect.
“If you’re not, they start to get some frustration there that is very unnecessary for both parties. That has to be clear and agreed and after that when a player doesn’t play, it’s really difficult to be happy because their profession is to play football.
“When they are sitting on the bench, they are being there and being supportive of the team but they are not doing what they love than anything in their life.
“At the end of the day, you have to find minutes for everybody but you need some consistency as well in your lineups. When we have four competitions it’s easier, it’s healthier.
“Then we have another fight, we have a large squad for this season so there are some players that don’t play at all, they are not in the squad and they know they won’t have any chance to be in that squad. That is tough mentally for them to maintain that motivation and that positivity around the place for a lot of months. That’s a big task.”