Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists his conscience is clear after he made the call to leave Mesut Ozil out of the squad for the Europa League and the Premier League this season.
The German is contracted to the club until the end of 2020/21, but he hasn’t played a competitive match since the three-month break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of this year. It was reported widely that the club were extremely keen to get his wages of £350,000 per week off their bill this summer, but Ozil made it clear that he had no intention of leaving before his contract expires. Some suggested that the decision to freeze the 32-year-old out after the break came as a result of his refusal to take a pay cut with the rest of the squad as the club’s finances suffered a blow at the time, but Arteta says that wasn’t the case.
Ozil reacted publicly to learning he was to be excluded from the squad by posting a message on his Instagram account, in which he claims he had pledged his loyalty to the club by signing his contract in 2018, but that loyalty wasn’t reciprocated.
“It was just a football decision and my conscience is very calm because I have been really fair with him,” Arteta has been quoted in saying.
The boss is adamant that Ozil had his chance like every other player, but in the end it was his difficult task to leave three names off the list, and the former Real Madrid star was one of them. There were no problems in communication between the two of them at any moment.
“My job is to get the best out of every player to contribute to the team performance. At the moment I feel that I have failed because I want the best possible Mesut for the team,” Arteta added in a self-reflecting manner.