It is no more news that Arsenal has omitted Mesut Ozil from its playing squad and a lot of reactions have been generated. His agent, Dr. Erkut Sogut wants a clear explanation from the club.
Ozil joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in September 2014 for a then-club-record £42 million fee. After settling down in the team, Ozil became one of the highest assist providers. He set up 19 goals during the 2015-16 Premier League season – a tally only ever beaten by Thierry Henry and Kevin De Bruyne.
Ozil then signed a new deal and became a £350,000-a-week earner at the Emirates in 2018. The development was described as a landmark moment for both players and club, when he agreed to stay in north London in January 2018. Since cementing his status as Arsenal’s star player, he later started fighting for his future.
He began to show an inconsistent performance. After upping his game, he made ten starts in the 10 Premier League games under Mikel Arteta and has not played a minute since March 7. He hasn’t even been named to a matchday squad since June 25.
Ozil’s agent hit back at Arsenal
Reacting to the exclusion of his client from the team, Ozil’s agent, Dr. Erkut Sogut says Arsenal must come clean about the real explanations behind their treatment of the midfielder.
Speaking with ESPN in an exclusive interview Sogut countered Arteta’s claim that Ozil’s absence is a football decision, adding that the German should be shown the same loyalty he received in his final two years as an Arsenal player.
In defense of his decision on the omission of the German, Arteta said he has failed to get the best out of Ozil.
Corroborating Arteta, Arsenal’s technical director Edu stated earlier this month that the team’s selection was determined by performance alone.
However, it look like there are other things attached to the decision of the coach.
“Arsenal fans deserve an honest explanation, not [Arteta] saying, ‘I failed Ozil.’ You didn’t fail Ozil. You failed to be fair, honest and transparent and treat someone with respect who has a contract and was loyal all the time.
“Every single person outside knows he hasn’t treated him fairly. He didn’t give him a chance to show himself this season. If he is still under contract, the player should have the option to stay and fight for his place. Mesut hasn’t been given that. Why would you put a player on the bench twice for 90 minutes [against Brighton and Crystal Palace in June] if he wasn’t fit or committed?,” Sogut asked during his interview with ESPN.
He further stated that Ozil his training well, which he said was also confirmed publicly by Per Mertesacker, who played with him before becoming a coach at the club’s academy.
The agent also confirmed speaking with five other teammates who attested to it.
“They say Mesut is one of their best players, and they cannot understand why he is left out. So it can’t be the training. If it is not the pitch, what are the footballing reasons? If you talk, you should tell the truth that the Arsenal fans deserve, otherwise don’t talk at all.”
How the problem started for Ozil in Arsenal
One of the problems Ozil might have had with Arsenal is surrounding their business interests in China.
Ozil took to his social media account last December, to highlight and condemn the treatment of around 10 million Uighurs living in Xinjiang. Reports suggested that over a million people had been held in detention camps. This made him accuse other Muslims of not interfering in the issue.
Arsenal being a chain of restaurants owner in China in a statement distanced themselves from Ozil’s social media post.
“Arsenal have always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics,” part of the club’s statement reads.
This made Ozil to be deleted from a computer game in China and the state TV dropped Arsenal’s game against Manchester City in mid-December.
Furthermore, in April, Ozil refused to join some of his teammates in taking an initial 12.5% pay cut. The playmaker felt it is unclear how the money would be spent, along with the manner of the conversations between the first-team squad and senior club officials.
“You have to understand the bigger picture. The [Uighur situation] created problems for the whole Premier League, not just Arsenal. He expected to get more support from the club. It is not talking about politics, it is about human rights, putting people in detention centres. Imagine a football player comes out and says, ‘This is inhumane.’ Is that politics or empathy?,” he added.
Ozil and Arteta are on cordial relationship but Sogut felt Ozil’s exile was from the Spaniard. This made the midfielder and his representatives felt Arteta is not being forthcoming about the reasons for his absence from Arsenal’s first-team plans.
‘Ozil showed his commitment to Arsenal cause’
Arteta joined the Gunners from Everton on deadline day in 2011 and become the club captain in 2014.
Due to injury, his playing time was reduced to just 11 appearances in the 2014-15 but signed a one-year extension. He suffered further fitness problems, making just one league appearance in his final six months. The Spaniard took the opportunity to start his coaching and he got the badge.
“He started zero games in the Premier League in his last season. He wasn’t there in the last six months at all, busy doing his coaching badges and meeting coaches for his future. Mesut plays for one English team and that’s it because he feels he can only play for that team. He is a Gunner in the end.
“Mesut is not a player who is yesterday a Toffee and today a Gunner. Arteta didn’t play at all in the final two years, but they still registered him because he was given a contract. Arsene Wenger used him for the final two minutes of his last game just to give him a nice moment, even though he wasn’t fit for months. Look at how [Arteta] was treated in his final two years, and how Mesut is getting treated in his final year.”
Sogut corroborates Ozil’s position, saying the midfielder would continue fighting for his place and remain committed to getting back into the team in January when there will be a chance for the club to resubmit their squad list for the second half of the campaign.
He further noted that his client enjoyed a revival in the latter part of Unai Emery’s tenure. His bad patch was due to a rough year where he survived a carjacking incident. Ozil played just 71 minutes in the first 10 league games of 2019-20.
His playing time was reduced due to persistent back problems, a delayed start to the season, and a carjacking incident in which he was approached by an armed gang while traveling through London with teammate Sead Kolasinac.
“Maybe [Arsenal’s] goal was to wait until the end and Mesut would say, ‘I want to leave.
“If Mesut would have done that, the club can say he wants to go, and if they can’t find him a club, they have an excuse and can say, ‘We can’t register you because you wanted to leave.’ But they knew for a long time that Mesut wanted to stay. He made it very clear. Maybe they wanted him to feel unwanted and unwelcome, but he wants to play for the badge.
“Mesut is 32 years old. He has a few more years in his career, but it is more about the way of treatment. Mesut is someone who fights for his rights. The contract was a big commitment for him. He could have left for another club like Alexis Sanchez [who left Arsenal to join Manchester United in 2018] did. He could have left [Arsenal] and got a £30 million signing-on fee [somewhere else] as a free agent at the peak of his career. But he stayed loyal.
“Maybe the club will change their position in January and register him. You never know what will happen,” he concluded.
Speaking on the effect of COVID-19 on the club, Sogut wondered why the club will cut members of their scouting team from across Europe and about 55 personnel across various departments, including Jerry Quy, the club’s mascot Gunnersaurus, who has served the club for 27 years and later cough out £45 million for Thomas Partey.
Although, Ozil offered to pay Quy’s salary for as long as Ozil remained a player at the club, but clubs has felt the impact of the coronavirus as they have to play without the fans.
“You wouldn’t expect a club with the class to make 55 people redundant just after winning the FA Cup or sacking a mascot after 27 years of service, just before making a £45 million signing [of Thomas Partey],” Sogut said. “And it doesn’t help if people from outside the club speak on their behalf. It, unfortunately, gives a very bad picture of the club which we are not used to having at a team like Arsenal.
“I would be very concerned for any club if someone repeatedly spoke on their behalf and clearly had a significant influence on and off the pitch.
“Mesut cannot speak now because of confidentiality, but one day he will, and we’ll see what people think.”