Mesut Ozil insists he is the only person who will decide when he leaves Arsenal after the German star was frozen out by Gunners boss Mikel Arteta. Ozil has not played for Arsenal since the coronavirus hiatus amid reports the club are keen to get his huge salary off the wage bill.
The 31-year-old earns a reported £350,000-per-week ($458,000), but has rarely provided good value since his 2013 move from Real Madrid. Ozil was absent as Arsenal beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final on August 1, but he will not allow the club to force him out before his contract expires in June 2021.
Holding out hope of winning back his place next season, Ozil told the Athletic: “Things have been difficult but I love Arsenal. I’ll decide when I go, not other people. 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.”
Ozil fell out of favour with Arteta’s predecessor Unai Emery, but started all 10 of Arsenal’s Premier League games after the former Gunners midfielder took charge in December. However, he has not featured in their past 13 matches in all competitions, with Arteta saying his exile was down to “football reasons”. Ozil believes he deserves another chance and he said: “You don’t play 10 games in a row if you’re unfit, not good enough or don’t behave well.”
Arteta and many Arsenal players accepted a 12.5% pay cut in April as a result of the financial fall-out from the coronavirus. But Ozil did not vote for the cut and he is concerned that “possibly the decision affected my chances on the pitch. “As players, we all wanted to contribute. But we needed more information and many questions were unanswered.”
Ozil fears there is now an agenda against him that will make the rest of his time at Arsenal uncomfortable. “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 pain a picture that is not true,” he said.
Ozil blasts Arsenal
failure to back his Uighur
Ozil also slammed Arsenal’s failure to back his support of Uighur Muslims over their alleged persecution in China. Ozil spoke out on Instagram against China’s treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang last year.
More than 1mn Uighurs and mostly Muslim Turkic minorities have been rounded up in internment camps, according to human rights groups and experts. Arsenal did not criticise Ozil for making the comments, but instead posted on their page on the Chinese social media site Weibo that the club “always adheres to the principles” of not getting involved in politics.
Since then Premier League clubs have supported the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd was killed in America. Former Germany international Ozil would have liked similar support over the Uighur issue.
“It doesn’t matter what religion or colour you are — Muslim, Christian, Jew, black, white or anything else. We are all the same,” Ozil told the Athletic. “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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