Ian Wright has reached out to Mesut Ozil with a message of support and says he’s ‘gutted’ the midfielder has been denied the chance to fight for his place at Arsenal after being left out of Mikel Arteta’s Premier League squad.
Ozil, 32, Arsenal’s top earner on eye-watering wages of £350,000-a-week, is yet to make a single appearance this season and last featured for the Gunners way back in March.
Arsenal were keen to offload Ozil either on loan or permanently in the summer transfer window but the playmaker has repeatedly made it clear that he intends to see out his contract at the Emirates, which runs through to 2021.
Ozil was not included in Arsenal’s Europa League squad which was announced earlier this month and the German’s omission from Arteta’s plans for their top-flight campaign prompted him to pen a lengthy, emotional statement on Instagram.
‘This is a difficult message to write to the Arsenal fans that I’ve played for over the past few years,’ Ozil 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. What else can I say? London still feels like home, I still have many good friends in this team, and I still feel a strong connection with the fans of this club.
‘No matter what, I will keep fighting for my chance and not let my 8th season at Arsenal end like this.
‘I can promise you that this hard decision won’t change anything in my mindset – I will continue to train as best as I can and wherever possible use my voice against inhumanity and for justice.’
Reacting to Ozil’s Premier League snub, Arsenal legend Wright tweeted: ‘Football will never stop surprising me.
‘The fact that whatever has gone on couldn’t be resolved between the club and Mesut is sad.
‘Sad for everyone involved and I can only send him strength for what will be a difficult few months knowing he won’t even have a chance to play. Gutted.’
Wright’s former Arsenal team-mate, Alan Smith, has backed Arteta’s decision but admits that he, too, has been saddened by the situation.
‘It is sad, there’s no doubt about it, because it’s a wasted talent and has been for the last couple of years,’ the ex-Arsenal striker told Sky Sports.
‘He hasn’t reached the levels that he did three or four or five years back.
‘I can’t remember this happening before in football when somebody on so much money – the club’s highest earner – is ostracised and has no chance at all of playing for the first-team.
‘His attitude in lockdown, he refused to take a wage-cut and I hear he didn’t take part in team Zoom meetings so Arteta was perhaps feeling that he’s not a team player.’