Fit and ready to play against Fulham but not even in the SQUAD: Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal career is in tatters … but is there any way back for the forgotten man?
- Mesut Ozil did not feature for Arsenal following June’s Premier League restart
- Ozil was dropped by both Mikel Arteta and former boss Unai Emery last season
- The Spaniard left him out of his squad to face Fulham on the opening day
- The Gunners would like to move him on but he has no desire to leave the club yet
- The club have signed Willian and are targeting Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar
Barely a week traipses by without the debate around Mesut Ozil’s role at Arsenal rearing its head in some form.
The debate has been roaring on ever since he put pen to paper on a brand new three-and-a-half-year contract worth £350,000 a week in January 2018, and his performances since then have not justify his hefty salary.
On Wednesday, the 31-year-old German took part in a Q&A on his personal Twitter account and declared that he was ‘fit and ready’ to go against Fulham in Arsenal’s first game of the new Premier League season.
The debate surrounding Mesut Ozil’s role at Arsenal has been roaring on for some time
The German declared he earlier this week that he is ‘fit and ready’ ahead of the new season
But clearly his manager Mikel Arteta does not feel the same way. The midfielder was not even in the matchday squad for the trip to Craven Cottage – now his career in north London looks to be crumbling and faces a huge battle to win his place back.
The World Cup winner is the first to admit his doubt over his role in the squad and has no idea how much playing time he will get this season: ‘Unfortunately, it’s not in my hands to decide the squad,’ he said.
The 31-year-old had already been excluded from Arteta’s recent squads – missing out on the FA Cup and Community Sheild wins entirely as he continues to be frozen out by Arteta. Last season he was regularly dropped by former Gunners manager Unai Emery before his sacking in November – and few have high hopes of a meaningful impact from him this season.
Ozil has become the forgotten man in north London, not featuring in any of the 13 games following the Premier League restart in June as the Gunners went on to win a record 14th FA Cup.
In fact, his last competitive appearance came in a 1-0 home win against West Ham in Arsenal’s final match before the coronavirus lockdown, while his last goal and only strike of the 2019-20 season came in a comfortable 4-0 victory against Newcastle in mid-February.
But the playmaker did not feature for Mikel Arteta’s side after June’s Premier League restart
The World Cup winner had also been dropped by former boss Unai Emery before his sacking
The playmaker himself did not receive a winners’ medal for Arsenal’s FA Cup exploits either having only featured in the competition in the third-round tie against Leeds, but that was the least of his concerns as a niggling back problem and Arteta’s predilection for dynamic midfield options saw him become an isolated, ostracised figure at the club.
Arteta stated himself in July that Ozil had been left out for ‘pure football reasons’, and while romantics among the Arsenal fanbase would love to see him reintroduced, the Spanish boss appears to be taking the Gunners in a totally different direction.
Ozil himself was not getting a sniff in Arteta’s squad and nor would he have fitted into his 3-4-3 formation, with Dani Ceballos telling Spanish newspaper El Pais last season that striker Alexandre Lacazette was partly operating in the traditional No 10 role as well as fulfilling his forward duties.
When the former Arsenal captain decided to switch it up, youngster Joe Willock was often the main man to offer plenty of running power to a tiring side late on in fixtures, with the image of Ozil providing shade for himself with an umbrella in Arsenal’s win at Southampton the perfect representation of his disillusionment.
That occasion at St Mary’s was only one of two occasions after the restart that he made the bench, but Arteta seemed to offer him and fellow outcast Matteo Guendouzi a lifeline ahead of the Community Shield win when the Spaniard said: ‘I’ve been really clear that everybody starts from zero.
Arteta stated in July that Ozil had been left out for ‘pure football reasons’ in his 3-4-3 formation
When he did change it up, Arteta picked Joe Willock (right) on the bench ahead of Ozil (left)
‘What you did two weeks ago or two years ago, doesn’t really matter. It’s what you are able to contribute to the team now.’
That statement did hold true in some respects, as Ozil featured in pre-season, but his sole appearance came in what was rumoured to be a heavily-experimental side in their 3-2 defeat by Aston Villa last week.
Moreover, with each passing week in the transfer window it appears his chance of a comeback this season are becoming slimmer and slimmer given the names linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium.
The north London side are admirers of Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, and having already brought Ceballos back for another season-long loan from Real Madrid, midfield appears to be an area Arteta is keen to strengthen.
There have also been suggestions that Arteta is keen to deploy new signing Willian in a central role after the Brazilian – one year Ozil’s senior – joined on a free transfer this summer after leaving Chelsea.
The image of Ozil under an umbrella at Southampton represented his current disillusionment
Arteta said in pre-season everyone would start from scratch and Ozil played against Aston Villa
Yet even with his game time appearing limited at the Emirates Stadium with new signings and other potential arrivals, Ozil appears so far to be determined to see out the final year of his deal.
Teams in Saudi Arabia and Qatar are said to be keen on Ozil, with reports last month that Saudi team Al-Nassr were reportedly ready to offer the midfielder around £15million per year.
But despite the interest, The Telegraph reported he has no intention of going anywhere despite the interest, backing up comments he made to The Athletic last month about his desire to stay.
‘My position is clear,’ said Ozil. ‘I’m here through to the last day of our agreement and I’ll give everything I have for this club.
‘I’ll decide when I go, not other people. I didn’t sign for two or three years, I signed for four and that should be respected by everyone.
But the Gunners are targeting a big-money move for Lyon star Houssem Aouar this window
Reports also suggested Arteta could look to deploy new signing Willian (right) in a central role
‘Things have obviously been difficult but I love Arsenal, I love to work there, I love the people in the club — the real people, those I’ve been with for a long time — and I love London, it’s my home.
‘Whatever happened in the last two seasons, I’m happy and very strong mentally. I never give up on anything. I want to help my team and I’ll fight for it. If I’m fit, I know what I can do on the pitch.’
A move to Turkish side Fenerbahce due to his family’s roots and even a transfer to the MLS have also been mooted when his contract expires, but there is no suggestion Arsenal will be granted their wish this summer and remove his enormous salary from an overly-inflated wage bill given most clubs’ reluctance or inability to match his extortionate demands financially.
But even facing limited game time, Ozil has stated he will not leave before summer 2021
Arsenal will need to sell before they can hope to land top targets such as Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey and Lyon’s Aouar.
If the Ghanaian and Frenchman arrive this summer, they will likely command fees superior to those Arsenal paid Real Madrid for Ozil’s services in 2013 for a then club-record fee of £42.5m which had Gunners fans celebrating in the streets.
But having won three FA Cups and having lit up the Emirates Stadium in his initial years at the club with some mesmeric displays to help the push for silverware, it appears Ozil’s Arsenal career is winding down to a tedious, unbecoming conclusion.
The German arrived in 2013 and gave some mesmeric display for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal
But it appears that ahead of the new season, Ozil’s Arsenal career is coming to a tedious end
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