Let's talk about Mesut Özil - a fantastic player for Arsenal who deservedly earned that contract, but hasn't been able to have the same kind of consistent impact since.
Amidst all the ups and downs in the past couple years, a big talking point in the media has been about Özil. Let's try to understand what has happened since his contract extension.
The Mesut Özil saga started properly in November 2018. Arsenal had played an unconvincing 1-1 draw at home to Wolves. The very next match, Unai Emery decided to switch to a 3 at the back formation, leaving Ozil on the bench. This was something that never happened under Wenger who found a way to fit him in and to great success, irrespective of what system was used. As games went by, we started leaving Özil out of the squad altogether. Emery used the term 'tactical reasons' to justify his selections.
By the end of February 2019, Arsenal's form took a dip. We were crying out for something more in the middle. And that's when Emery decided to re-integrate Ozil in once again. Whilst he wasn't the world class playmaker he used to be, he proved a useful player in those couple months, even if he wasn't high on the assists or goal-scoring charts.
Despite that tragic night at Baku where the dismayed Özil was subbed off, it seemed like Emery had the player in his plans for the next season. Mesut looked like the player we wanted to see in the 2019 pre-season. Unai deployed him behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Reiss Nelson and Mkhitaryan on the flanks. However, the knife attack delayed his re-integration into the Premier league side and Unai instead decided to go with Ceballos as the most advanced playmaker.
Özil found game time hard to come by even after his decisive contribution in our second goal against Watford. Emery one day suggested it was for tactical reasons and the next, stated that it may not be down fully to him. Whatever the reason was, it was Emery who was vilified by fans and in that infamous game against Palace when Xhaka was booed, the fans resorted to chanting 'We got Ozil'.
That midweek, we had a league cup game away to Anfield. Emery for about the 3rd time re-integrated Ozil once again and he was arguably our best player on the pitch, even if it was against a pretty young Liverpool side. After this, Özil found his place back in the league side as well.
Apart from that one game Freddie Ljungberg decided to leave Ozil out of the squad entirely for disciplinary reasons, Mesut found himself being a constant in the side till lockdown struck, with Arteta insisting on numerous occasions what an important player Özil is to the side.
The comments on China were made months before the lockdown. The only thing that happened since was the pay-cut dispute. It is 100% for reasons beyond just football as no player can go from starting 13-14 games on a stretch to not playing well at all. Furthermore, Mesut even played a role in getting the match winning assist to Alexandre Lacazette.
As soon as he was left out for the game against Manchester City, the discussions once again began. The same question was asked to Arteta before every game. Fast forward to the current season and Özil is still yet to play and has been left out of both, the league and European squad list.
For over 7 months we haven't seen Özil play a game. From Arsenal's point of view, we're paying a player who isn't playing. From the player's point of view, he still has things to offer and is wasting his time by being on the sidelines. There is no real winner here, what a shame.