Arsenal are reportedly unlikely to bring back Mesut Ozil for the second half of the season, meaning he is likely to have played his last game for the club. The World Cup winner has been cast aside by Gunners boss and former team-mate Mikel Arteta as he enters the final six months of his current deal.
Ozil was handed a blockbuster contract extension worth around £350,000 a week in Arsene Wenger’s final season in north London.
It’s a decision Arsenal have lived to regret in recent times after Ozil fell out of favour under both Unai Emery and Arteta.
The club have tried to negotiate a mutual termination of Ozil’s contract on two occasions but the attacking midfielder has made it clear he’s going nowhere.
In the wake of Arsenal’s recent slump which they have since recovered from, there were plenty of calls to see Ozil reintegrated into the set up from pundits and supporters.
The Gunners have struggled to create chances and break down teams with deep-lying defences and Ozil specialises in picking locks.
However, according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, there has been little suggestion that the Gunners could bring Ozil back in from the cold.
“I don’t think there’s any great expectation on behalf of the club or the player that he is going to be reintegrated [into Arsenal’s squad],” he said on the Ornstein and Chapman Podcast.
“He seems to be training with the first team. I think he’s been given a bit of time off with the club’s blessing just recently, so I don’t know if he’s with the first-team setup as we speak, but he has been throughout the season and from what we hear, his fitness is in good shape.
“We know about his technical level, there’s no match fitness whatsoever. He’s not played a single second of football since lockdown in March, so I’d be, as I said before, very surprised and I think that there’s no expectation, really, at this point in time on behalf of the club or the player that he’ll be playing again for Arsenal.”
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Arteta’s decision to grant Ozil some time off suggests he’s not in his immediate plans.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp recently described any potential decision to bring Ozil back into the team as a “no brainer”.
“People have talked about whether Arsenal should bring Mesut Ozil in… for me, it’s a no brainer. You’re not creating chances,” Redknapp said.
“Does the manager look weak bringing him back in? Some will say he would but not for me.
“If you’re creating chances while still losing games, I would say of course you don’t have to bring him in. But in games like Burnley at home, where you need someone to spot a pass for [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang… Arteta tried to make a statement by not putting him in the squad, but he should take this on the chin and say it hasn’t worked.
“They should use him while they’ve got him. What’s the point? Being in the position they’re in without Ozil just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Graeme Souness is opposed to the decision though and believes it could cause unrest in the dressing room.
The Liverpool legend added: “I would imagine that Arteta will have spoken to the directors about the Ozil situation. If you bring Ozil back now, he’s coming back on his terms. Arteta made a big decision that he ran by the directors.
“As long as he is sitting outside of the team, his value is going down and he’s still being paid big money. They have a diminishing asset. They’ll be looking at that situation and questioning the decision.
“Do they bring him back? It takes some real man-management as Mikel is involved in his first job in management. This would be a difficult job for an experienced manager. He’s got it all on to manage that situation and come out of it with his face. I’m not so sure [if Ozil should come back into the fold].
“The player coming back on his terms is never good. It diminishes his credibility and some of the players in that dressing room would use that against him.”What Arsenal need are adults who can nurture some of the kids. I’m looking at that group and I’m not seeing many of them.”