Mikel Arteta hints Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil could return for the second half of the season


Mikel Arteta hints Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil could be brought back from exile for the second half of the season as he insists he has ‘time to decide’ despite £350,000-per-week midfielder’s links with a January move

  • Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are still struggling in the Premier League this season 
  • The Gunners have scored just twice in their last seven games and lie in 15th place
  • Arteta claims outcast Mesut Ozil could return to the Arsenal squad in January
  • The German was left out of Arsenal’s 25-man squads at the start of the season 

Mikel Arteta appears to have opened the door for Mesut Ozil to return to the Arsenal squad in January but claims a decision has not been made on the German’s future. 

The Gunners are currently struggling in front of goal having scored just twice in their last seven league games, with German playmaker Ozil out of the Gunners’ 25-man squad for both the Premier League and the Europa League. 

Arteta could re-register the 32-year-old in the January transfer window but would have to reshuffle his squad as they lie 15th in the top-flight table.  

Mikel Arteta (left) could welcome Mesut Ozil (right) back into the Arsenal team in January

The £350,000-a-week star is not in Arsenal's Premier League and Europa League squads

The £350,000-a-week star is not in Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with Burnley, the Arsenal manager said: ‘He’s not in the squad right now. I’m focusing just on the players we have here. 

‘But, whatever happens in January, we have some time to decide.’

Ozil has not played for Arsenal since the coronavirus pandemic stopped the Premier League season in March. 

The 32-year-old is currently on a £350,000-a-week contract in north London which ends at the end of this season, with Ozil set to leave the Gunners on a free transfer.

Ozil (right) has not featured for the Gunners since before Covid-19 stopped football in March

Ozil (right) has not featured for the Gunners since before Covid-19 stopped football in March

Ozil could even move in January with Turkish side Fenerbahce reportedly interested in the 32-year-old, with Inter Miami and LA Galaxy keeping tabs on the German’s situation.  

Former Arsenal coach Freddie Ljungberg, who was interim manager before Arteta arrived 12 months ago, does not understand why Ozil has been exiled and believes the German could help the Gunners’ woes in front of goal. 

The Swede told Sky Sports this week: ‘When you have a player like that – and I don’t say he should play every single week – but when you have possession and you need to find that cute pass, I don’t think there are any better players than Mesut doing that.

‘Of course you lose a bit defensively, but it’s a decision they’ve made. I don’t know why the decision’s been made and he’s outside the 25-man squad, so they can’t use him. But for those things, I don’t think there are many better in the world.’

Ozil's deal expires at the end of this season but Arteta insists no decision has been made

Ozil’s deal expires at the end of this season but Arteta insists no decision has been made

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger also questioned Arteta’s decision to turn Ozil into an outcast. 

The German midfielder was a fan favourite when Wenger was manager of the club, but has failed to recapture his excellent form under the Frenchman’s sucessor, Unai Emery, and Arteta.  

Wenger told ESPN this week: ‘He (Ozil) was not difficult to manage. He was a guy who had a special quality as a creative player and needed to have fun. 

Arsene Wenger (right) claimed Ozil (left) was not a problem player during his time as manager

Arsene Wenger (right) claimed Ozil (left) was not a problem player during his time as manager

‘He is an artist and these guys are a bit more sensitive. They need support and an environment that pushes them to give their best. 

‘You have two ways to see a football team. You get everybody to do the same. The same intensity of work, the same defensive work or you find a compromise,’ he added.

‘You have a more creative player in the team who can do less defensive work but you build a team around him who can compensate for these deficiencies. That is what you have to think about.’