Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has suggested he is open to handing Mesut Ozil a chance to see out his Gunners career in style but only if he earns the right to – and stands by his decision to exclude the German from his Premier League and Europa League squads this term.
Ozil has not played a competitive match for Arsenal since setting up the winning goal in a Premier League victory over West Ham back in March.
After the league was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, Ozil was an unused substitute in matches against Brighton and Southampton but has not made the match-day squad for a game in any competition since.
The 32-year-old is not registered in Arsenal’s league and European squad and cannot play again this season until the FA Cup begins.
But having not been involved in the Carabao Cup, the World Cup winner is unlikely to play in the competition in which Arsenal are the holders, Arteta having led the north London club to Wembley glory in August.
Ozil is currently heading for a grim end to his Arsenal career with his current £350,000-a-week Emirates contract expiring at the end of this season.
But Arteta has a chance to reintegrate Ozil into the side after the January transfer window closes, when Premier League clubs can resubmit their 25-man squad lists for the remainder of the season.
The Europa League also permits clubs to make changes to their lists of eligible players prior to the knockout rounds, although Ozil’s hopes of a resurgence seemingly hinge on whether Arsenal sell players in the winter window.
Arteta told beIN SPORTS while discussing Ozil’s exile: “Well everybody can [find their way back into the team].
“I think since I arrived here you see where some players have started and where they are right now, their careers are completely changed and they have earned that right. We gave them the opportunities and they took them.
“I’m hurt [about Ozil’s situation] because I don’t like any player in my squad not to have the possibility to participate or to compete.
“For me it is really sad because I don’t think anybody deserves that. With Mesut at the moment, with the squad list, obviously he cannot be involved.
“I try to be as clear as possible with him and with the fans and all the media because they deserve to know the reasons why.
“Some people will understand and other people won’t understand it.”
There have been calls for Ozil to get a second shot under Arteta with the team struggling for creativity and goals at current in his absence.
Yet while Arteta has not fully shut the door on Ozil returning to the team, the Spanish coach insists he does not regret his decision to exclude the playmaker because he says it was the right one for the sake of the club.
“The moment that you lose football matches his name is going to come up and when you don’t it won’t,” Arteta added.
“At the end of the day I’m sitting here to make decisions, to make the decisions that, in my opinion, are the best for the football club. And this is what I have to do.”
Ozil, 33, posted a furious statement after Arteta left him out of his Premier League squad in which he hit out at the club for a lack of loyalty.
He said: “I’m really deeply disappointed by the fact that I have not been registered for the Premier League season for the time being.
“Upon signing my new contract in 2018, I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me that this has not been reciprocated.
“As I have just found out, loyalty is hard to come by nowadays. I’ve always tried to remain positive from week to week that there’s maybe a chance to get back in the squad soon again. That’s why I kept silent so far.
“Before the coronavirus break I was really happy with the development under our new coach Mikel Arteta – we’ve been on a positive way and I would say my performances were on a really good level.
“But then things changed, again, and I was not longer allowed to play football for Arsenal.”
And Bernd Leno recently said of his compatriot: “Mesut is still a part of the team and trains with us.
“He is absolutely professional, both on the pitch and in the changing room. Obviously it’s a disappointing situation for him but Mesut handles it well and is absolutely loyal.”