Mesut Ozil has made it clear that he will not be leaving Arsenal before the end of his contract, stating that he will ‘give everything’ for the club and that his four-year deal should be respected by all parties.
The playmaker’s situation at the Emirates has been the topic of much debate in recent times, with both current head coach Mikel Arteta and former boss Unai Emery having left him out of match-day squads despite being fit.
Given the 31-year-old is on a massive £350,000-per-week salary, fans and pundits alike have questioned whether those funds could be better spent elsewhere as Arteta continues to undertake a rebuilding job in north London.
Ozil, however, insists that only he will decide when he leaves the Gunners and will continue to fight for his place in the first team until he is no longer under contract.
‘My position is clear,’ the German told The Athletic. ‘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.’
Whether Arteta decides to draft Ozil back into his first-team plans remains the big question in terms of whether the attacking midfielder will get any time on the pitch, but he says he will be ready if and when he is called upon and remains committed to the Arsenal cause.
‘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,’ Ozil added.
‘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.’
In what was a lengthy interview with The Athletic, Ozil also opened up when quizzed on how little football he has played for Arsenal in 2020, the experienced midfielder expressed his disappointment over the unfair scrutiny he has found himself under.
Ozil said: ‘If you consider the circumstances, you cannot use these statistics [that show Arsenal performed better without Ozil].
‘If you have to, it is more accurate to look at the data for my whole Arsenal career and also from the 10 games after Mikel was appointed – not so bad for someone who had barely been picked for a year and a half.
‘People will always love or hate you, and the main thing is the people who know you and what they think. What the people outside say about my play or my character is irrelevant – they just speak bullshit to make publicity and they know by using my name it will bring them attention.
‘Do it as much as you like. I don’t care, or listen to people who don’t know me. I didn’t get here because of them but because of the family and friends who I trust and are always behind me.’
Ozil refused to be drawn on his relationship with Arteta, but did admit that he was frustrated to be left out after keeping himself in top physical condition during the coronavirus-enforced break.
He added: ‘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% 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.’
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