Mesut Ozil‘s Arsenal nightmare finally came to an end on Sunday as the midfielder’s highly-anticipated move to boyhood club Fenerbahce was confirmed. The 32-year-old has penned a three-and-a-half-year deal with the Turkish heavyweights after reaching an agreement with the Gunners to terminate his contract prematurely.
Ozil had not played for Arsenal since March of last year and was left out of Mikel Arteta‘s Premier League and Europa League squads at the beginning of the season, ending his hopes of first-team action until at least February.
He leaves the Emirates Stadium after 254 total appearances for the club, claiming 44 goals and 77 assists during his seven-and-a-half-year spell in north London.
Ozil, who was a fan favourite for the vast majority of his time with the Gunners, posted a lengthy farewell message to supporters on Twitter after his exit was confirmed.
Reflecting on his Arsenal career with fondness, the World Cup winner revealed his admiration for the club’s academy stars that have successfully integrated into the senior side.
Emile Smith Rowe is one of the brightest talents to roll off the production line in recent years, with the 20-year-old taking on a significant portion of his side’s creative responsibility at times this season.
And Ozil is delighted to see the young attacking midfielder and his fellow academy graduates performing well for Arteta’s side as of late.
“For me, it’s been amazing to see some of the boys from Hale End coming into the first-team setup,” Ozil wrote. “As we all know, they are the future of our club, and I wish them every success!”
Smith Rowe, who is averaging an assist every 134 minutes in the Premier League this season, is the latest young player to have successfully forced his way into Arteta’s plans.
Teenager Bukayo Saka was rewarded for his hard work with a senior England call-up last year after breaking into the side during the previous campaign.
Gabriel Martinelli is another to have caught the eye, continuing to impress since returning from a long-term injury in December.
Arteta admitted last month that he is placing a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of his young players, but claimed they are capable of thriving under the pressure to perform well for the club’s first-team.
“It’s part of what they have to do and what they have to go through to become really important players for this football club,” Arteta told the club website.
“You have to see how people react in difficult moments and they have to experience it themselves, to get through these difficult moments and how they’re going to handle that pressure.
“If they are able to do that, they have to handle good moments and how they handle that to continue performing at the level that is required here.
“So it’s another experience for them and I must say that they have been much more mature, responsible and efficient than I was expecting. So in my opinion, they are doing really well.”
Ozil addressed a number of other topics in his Twitter statement, including the circumstances surrounding his lack of action during the last ten months.
However, despite his recent struggles, the midfielder expressed his love for the club and stressed that he will never forget his time in north London.
“Hearing my name chanted around the Emirates will forever give me goosebumps, and the memories I’ve made will stick with me forever,” he added.
“Much has been written about my time at Arsenal, especially in recent months. Arsenal is a club of class and prestige, something that I felt every time I walked onto the pitch.
“Players, staff and management always come and go – but the club’s values and fans will remain forever.”