Mesut Ozil, even when at his best for Arsenal, divided opinion like no other.
The German’s languid style and perceived lack of effort on the pitch never did endear himself to certain parts of the Gooner faithful – even when it was revealed that Ozil was in fact covering more ground than most, according to official stats.
This season just past though, has seen even the most ardent Ozil aficionado struggle to justify his exorbitant wage.
Ozil struggled to win over former boss Unai Emery, but eventually the struggles on the pitch led to Emery recall the playmaker.
Mikel Arteta also didn’t initially use the German to the max, but the ten games before the footballing hiatus caused by Covid-19 saw Ozil play plenty.
Results were on the up before Ozil was recalled, so we cannot point to an improvement on the pitch, but Ozil didn’t exactly light the games up. Since football resumed however, Arteta has not used Ozil for a single minute, leaving him out of the matchday squad entirely on most occasions.
It seemed that a departure would be best for all parties, but speaking exclusively to The Athletic, Ozil has officially declared that he will see out his Arsenal contract and stay for next season.
Ozil stated “Things have been difficult but I love Arsenal," he told the Athletic. "I'll decide when I go, not other people."
"I'll give everything I have for this club," Ozil added. "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."
Ozil touched on his respect for Arteta’s decision to leave him out of the side, but said "You don't play 10 games in a row if you're unfit, not good enough or don't behave well."
The interview with The Athletic also talked of Ozil rejecting a paycut during the lockdown and how this could be a contributing factor to the Number10 being left out of the side.
Ozil replied that he was "not the only player who rejected the cut in the end, but only my name came out.”
We will all speculate why Ozil has been left out in the cold, but it is most likely a combination of a failure to play and train in a certain way. Arteta doesn’t seem the type to leave a talented player out if they will benefit the team. Besides, our tactics don’t seem to suit a designated number10. Instead, our play flows through two or three different players and responsibility is shared for creation.
If Ozil is to force his way back into the side as he mentioned above, he will have to change something. Arsenal are making progress and it is looking very much like Ozil is being left behind.
Will Arsenal force the player out to gain a transfer fee? Or will they continue with the German?
Time is ticking on the season’s beginning – and also for a decision on Ozil’s future. Although, it seems Ozil’s mind is made up.