Ozil says he intends to stay at Arsenal till the last day of his contract

Mesut Ozil intends to stay at Arsenal till the last day of his contract, according to David Ornstein of The Athletic

The German playmaker started Mikel Arteta’s first ten Premier League games as Arsenal head coach after being left out for the majority of the first half of the season by former boss Unai Emery. 

After the resumption of the Premier League, however, the former Real Madrid star did not play a single minute of football. Mikel Arteta has refused to discuss the German player’s situation at the club at great length but has maintained that his absence from the team is purely down to football reasons. 

Arteta has talked about wanting players who are completely ‘on the boat’ at Arsenal. By this, he means he wants his players to exhibit a certain kind of behaviour and share values that are considered non-negotiable on a daily basis at the club.

A back injury kept him out for a few games but Arsenal’s number 10 claims he was fit and available for selection for most of the games in the closing stages of the season.

On his lack of game time, he said:

“I can’t talk about my private conversations with the coach. But I can tell you I know my body well. I was fit enough to play every game before the break and, apart from a small injury, it was the same after. My daughter was born while we were off so maybe I was not always sleeping perfectly, but this is normal. I actually had more energy and excitement to play because of her.”

“As a player, you sometimes have bad days and can’t always be happy, especially if you’re not playing. When you know how good you are and you know you’re not going to be picked, it’s hard to be at 100 per cent and, of course, you can get disappointed. This is my profession, it’s what I love doing: being on the pitch, playing matches, showing the people, helping the club and my team.”

“I fully respect the coach’s decision but I believe these things should mainly be decided on the pitch. After the restart, I wasn’t given a chance to show what I can do. You don’t play 10 games in a row if you’re unfit, not good enough or don’t behave well. If I played these games badly and was then left out completely for that reason then I might understand, but this was not the case.”

Ozil was allowed to start his summer break early and miss Arsenal’s FA Cup final against Chelsea. This, in addition to his lack of minutes after the Premier League resumed, caused people to speculate that he would leave the club in the summer. 

Sections of the media have reported that the Gunners are considering the possibility of paying up the remainder of his contract to conclude what has been a challenging issue for the club and release funds that can be used for the rebuilding job currently afoot in North London. 

On his future at the club, the former Real Madrid player said:

“My position is clear. I’m here through to the last day of our agreement and I’ll give everything I have for this club. Situations like these will never break me, they only make me stronger. I showed in the past that I can come back into the team and I will show it again.”

“I’ll decide when I go, not other people. I didn’t sign for two or three years, I signed for four and that should be respected by everyone. Things have obviously been difficult but I love Arsenal, I love to work there, I love the people in the club — the real people, those I’ve been with for a long time — and I love London, it’s my home.”

“Whatever happened in the last two seasons, I’m happy and very strong mentally. I never give up on anything. I want to help my team and I’ll fight for it. If I’m fit, I know what I can do on the pitch.”

It is no secret that the Arsenal hierarchy have been keen on offloading the World Cup winner for some time now. He signed a new deal in 2018 that earned him wages of £350,000 a week, making him the highest earner in the history of Arsenal football club. His performances have not matched the investment in the eyes of the Arsenal hierarchy and they feel the money could be utilised far more effectively. 

There have been murmurs of a move to Turkey or the MLS but it seems virtually impossible that Ozil will leave the club before his contract in North London expires.

On how he feels about the club wanting to move him on, he said:

“It’s hard. When a player wants to leave and the club says no, the player must accept it unless they find a solution together. So when a club wants a player to leave and the player says no, the club must accept it unless a solution can be found together. I don’t want to leave, so that’s it.”

“In 2018, I had plenty of options that would have earned me far more money as a free agent, but I committed myself to Arsenal because this was the club and the fanbase I wanted to play for. In that sense, nothing has changed. Mikel knows my quality and I will be ready when he needs me.”

“I’m not going into pre-season thinking, ‘Final year, I can chill — I know I don’t play’. These are not easy times for Arsenal and I want to help. I still have a lot to offer and I train as hard as I can, whether I’m in the squad or not. If you’re called in, you have to be prepared. I’m doing all the necessary work on the pitch, with the fitness coach and in the gym. This is all I can do.”

The player has received a lot of criticism for not agreeing to take a pay cut due to the financial effects of the pandemic. A majority of Arsenal’s first team agreed to take a 12.5% wage cut. The club’s initial attempt to convince the players to agree to a pay cut was rejected but head coach Mikel Arteta got involved and pleaded with the players to get on board. Arsenal’s first team relented and they remain the first and only Premier League club to take a wage cut. 

The media has reported that Ozil was the only player to reject the proposal to accept a pay cut. This topic has regained momentum since the Gunners announced 55 redundancies. This move angered many players at the club who believed they had agreed to take a wage cut on the assumption that it would ensure the security of the non-playing staff’s jobs at Arsenal.

On his refusal to take a pay cut, Ozil said:

“As players, we all wanted to contribute. But we needed more information and many questions were unanswered. Everyone was fine with a deferral while there was so much uncertainty — I would have been OK to take a bigger share — and then a cut if required, once the football and financial outlook was clearer. But we were rushed into it without proper consultation.”

“For anyone in this situation, you have a right to know everything, to understand why it is happening and where the money is going. But we didn’t get enough details, we just had to give a decision. It was far too quick for something so important and there was a lot of pressure.”

“This was not fair, especially for the young guys, and I refused. I had a baby at home and have commitments to my family here, in Turkey and in Germany — to my charities, too, and also a new project we started to support people in London that was from the heart and not for publicity.”

“People who know me know exactly how generous I am and, as far as I’m aware, I was not the only player who rejected the cut in the end, but only my name came out. I guess that’s because it is me and people have been trying for two years to destroy me, to make me unhappy, to push an agenda they hope will turn the supporters against me and paint a picture that is not true.”

“Possibly the decision affected my chances on the pitch, I don’t know. But I’m not afraid to stand up for what I feel is right — and when you see what has happened now with the jobs, maybe I was.”

The former Schalke player found himself embroiled in a controversy towards the end of last year due to his criticism of the alleged persecution of Uighur Muslims in China. He was censored in China for a significant period of time and Arsenal distanced themselves from his remarks. They made it clear that they preferred to stay away from politics. 

On how he feels about the Uighur Muslim issue in China and the lack of support he felt, the German playmaker said:

“Every human is equal. It doesn’t matter what religion or colour you are — Muslim, Christian, Jew, black, white or anything else. We are all the same.”

“What I said was not against Chinese people, it was against whoever is doing this to the Uighur Muslims and other people who are not helping them, such as other Muslim countries.”

“I have given a lot to Arsenal, on and off the pitch, so the reaction was disappointing. They said they don’t get involved in politics but this isn’t politics and they have got involved in other issues.”

“In America, we saw George Floyd killed and the world spoke up to say Black Lives Matter, and that is correct. We are all equal and it’s a good thing that people fight against injustice. There are a lot of black players and fans of Arsenal and it’s fantastic the club is backing them.”

“But I wish people would have done the same for the Muslims because Arsenal have many Muslim players and fans as well, and it is important for the world to say that Muslim Lives Matter.”


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