Mikel Arteta insists the decision to leave Mesut Ozil out of Arsenal’s Premier League squad is purely a football decision and is not a reaction to his refusal to take a pay cut.
The World Cup winner – who is the club’s highest earner on £350,000-a-week – appears to have played his last game for the north London club after he was not registered to play in either the Europa League or the Premier League..
Ozil made an emotional post on social media after his omission was confirmed, vowing to keep fighting to save his Arsenal career..
View this post on Instagram
This is a difficult message to write to the @Arsenal fans that I’ve played for over the past few years. I’m really deeply disappointed by the fact that I have not been registered for the @premierleague 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. 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. #M1Ö #YaGunnersYa
But Arteta appears to have closed the door on the possibility of Ozil playing for Arsenal again, even though he could be registered in January, and has defended the decision to exclude the German.
Speaking on his Zoom press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Europa League clash with Rapid Wien, Arteta said of Ozil’s statement: ‘Everybody is free to express his feeling.
‘My conscious is very calm because I have been very fair with him, my level of communication with him has been very high.
‘I am sad that I have to leave three players out of this list which is never pleasant. I have to say that I try to look everybody in the eye and be comfortable with it.
‘With Mesut I have this feeling because I was being very straightforward since I arrived at this club.’
Ozil had featured regularly under Arteta prior to the coronavirus crisis, though did not play at all after the restart amid tension with the club for refusing to agree to a pay cut which the rest of the squad accepted.
Arteta insists Ozil’s stance over the wage cut has had no impact on his lack of involvement in the first-team squad and is adamant the decision to exclude the 32-year-old is based purely on footballing reasons.
He added: ‘Honestly I take full responsibility. I have to be the one getting the best out of the players. It is my responsibility.
‘It is nothing related to any behaviour or pay cuts. It is not true. It’s my decision.’
Arteta continued: ‘You remember the atmosphere around him when I joined, it was pretty difficult. I asked myself, our fans to support him and create a much better atmosphere.
‘You remember and recall, you could see the difference at the Emirates stadium in two or three weeks and that was a way in my opinion to support that player but look for the interests for the football club as much as possible.
‘But then I have to see daily, basically, the input, the performance and what every player brings to the team.’
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