Mesut Ozil learnt last week that he would play no part in Arsenal’s Europa League campaign this season.
The decision would have been hard for any professional to take, especially the club’s best-paid and longest-serving player who should be in his prime.
And the decision rather shows the writing is on the wall for Ozil, who is also facing being axed from Arsenal’s Premier League squad.
All in all it is turning out to be a rather disastrous final year at Arsenal for the German, but this underwhelming ending is a long time in the making.
Arsene Wenger signed Ozil back in 2013, with Arsenal splashing out a then record £42million on the German.
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Wenger certainly got the best out of Ozil over any manager that followed him, but the midfielder was far from the Frenchman’s greatest ever signing.
In fact, Wenger experienced the same problems with Ozil that have cropped up since, including him missing training with illness or mysterious injury.
Arsenal losing Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United in 2018 was the catalyst for the Gunners to offer Ozil a massive new wage.
And after some deliberation, Ozil put pen to paper with the club on a three-year deal, and made himself Arsenal’s best-paid player of all time on £350,000-a-week.
Unai Emery would later take the reins from Wenger and vowed to get the best out of him.
But he failed to do so, and ultimately froze him out.
Arteta then took the reins from Emery and made the exact same vow.
But when the same problems cropped up once again, Arteta made the decision to freeze Ozil out once and for all.
Emery spoke out about Ozil following his Arsenal tenure, in which he criticised the German’s commitment to the cause.
“I spoke a lot with Ozil,” Emery told The Guardian in May 2020. “He has to be self‑critical too, analyse his attitude and commitment.
“I tried with all my might to help Ozil. Throughout my career, talented players have reached their best level with me. I was always positive, wanting him to play, be involved.
“In pre-season I told him I wanted to help recover the best Ozil. I wanted a high level of participation and commitment in the dressing room. I respected him and thought he could help.
“He could have been a captain but the dressing room didn’t want him to be. That’s not what I decided; that’s what the players decided. Captains are ones who have to keep defending the club, the coach, team-mates.”
The fact that Emery claims the Arsenal dressing room was against Ozil being captain is telling, as it suggests players agreed with the former Gunners boss, and ultimately backed his decision to freeze out the German.
This, coupled with the fact that new boss Arteta has been continually praised for the way in which he has galvanised the Gunners since taking the reins, suggests the dressing room is once again on the manager’s side.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, for instance, recently signed a new Arsenal contract, and made it clear he was sticking around because he believes in Arteta’s project.
Other managers have also heaped praise on Arteta in recent months, with Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp waxing lyrical about the Gunners.
Having the nerve to freeze out the club’s best-paid and longest serving player is a daunting task for any boss, especially a man a mere seven years older than Ozil working his very first job in managment.
But Arteta has managed to do this and retain the support around him, suggesting the dressing room has picked its side in this dispute.
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