Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he feels he has “failed” with midfielder Mesut Ozil after leaving him out of his 25-man Premier League squad.
The German, who had also been omitted from the Europa League squad, can now only play for Arsenal Under-23s until his deal expires in summer 2021.
The 32-year-old, who joined Arsenal for a then club record £42.4m in 2013, has not played for the club since 7 March.
“My conscience is very calm because I have been really fair,” said Arteta.
“What I can say from my side is that it is just a football decision. My level of communication with him has been really high and we know what to expect with each other.
“Obviously a player of that dimension, with the career he has had, everything that happens around him has a big impact. It has been the case for the last eight years; it is nothing new that is just happening now. A lot of things have happened over these eight years.
“My job is to get the best out of every player, to contribute to the team performance.
“Here I feel at the moment, today, that I have failed. I want the best possible for Mesut and for the team. And in some moments, I was able to get close to that, and at the moment, I have not been able to do it because I have to make the decision to leave him out of the squad.”
‘Loyalty is hard to come by nowadays’ – Ozil
Earlier, in a message to Arsenal fans, Ozil said, “Loyalty is hard to come by nowadays.”
“I’m really deeply disappointed by the fact that I have not been registered for the Premier League season for the time being,” Ozil wrote on social media.
He also said, “Upon signing my new contract in 2018, I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me that this has not been reciprocated.
“I’ve always tried to remain positive from week to week that there’s maybe a chance to get back in the squad soon again. That’s why I kept silent so far.”
Since joining from Real Madrid seven years ago, Ozil has scored 44 goals in 254 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners.
He fell out of favour under previous manager Unai Emery before returning to the side under interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.
After Arteta’s appointment in December 2019, Ozil started all 10 of Arsenal’s Premier League games immediately before the coronavirus pandemic forced a three-month suspension of the top-flight in March.
Earlier in October, he offered to pay the salary of Jerry Quy, the man who plays the role of club mascot Gunnersaurus, who was one of 55 redundancies at the club.
“Before the coronavirus break I was really happy with my development under our new coach Mikel Arteta – we’ve been on a positive way and I would say my performances were on a really good level,” Ozil added.
“But then things changed, again, and I was no longer allowed to play football for Arsenal. No matter what, I will keep fighting for my chance and not let my eighth season at Arsenal end like this.
“I can promise you that this hard decision won’t change anything in my mindset – I will continue to train as best as I can and wherever possible use my voice against inhumanity and for justice.”
Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright said he was “gutted” for Ozil.
“Football will never stop surprising me,” he said on Twitter.
“The fact that whatever has gone on couldn’t be resolved between the club and Mesut is sad. Sad for everyone involved and I can only send him strength for what will be a difficult few months knowing he won’t even have a chance to play.”
Balogun to critics: You can’t criticise me for not trying
Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun has defended his commitment to the Nigeria national side after recent criticisms directed at him over his performances.
The Rangers Glasgow’s defender has come under scathing criticisms following the country’s defeat to Central African Republic during their 2022 World Cup qualifier at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos last Thursday.
The centre-back was held responsible for the late goal conceded against the minnows following a mix-up with his defensive partner William Troost-Ekong, allowing CAR forward Karl Namnganda through on goal before slotting past Francis Uzoho, in goal for the Eagles.
However, the 33-year-old redeemed himself by scoring against CAR in the second game of the double-header clash in Douala, Cameroon – his first strike for Nigeria since he made his debut in 2014.
In an interview with ESPN, the centre-back said he had always given 100 per cent for Nigeria.
You’ve seen me play for a few years now. And you know that when I step onto the pitch I always give 100 per cent and I am always passionate,” Balogun said.
“Whether I am having a good performance or a bad performance, you can never actually criticise me for not trying. That is what I always give, that is the least I can do.”
2022 WCQ: Super Eagles Beat CAR In Douala To Maintain Group C Lead
Nigeria’ Super Eagles defeated their Central African Republic counterparts 2-0 in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifier decided at the Stade Japoma de Douala in Cameroon.
First half goals from Leon Balogun and Victor Osimhen ensure that the three-times African champions picked maximum three points away after losing at home to CAR in the first leg match last Thursday in Lagos.
The result sees the Super Eagles five points ahead of CAR and Cape Verde, while Liberia are bottom of the log with just the three points after three matchdays.
Lagos SWAN berates Iheanacho over unruly behaviour
The Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos Chapter, on Saturday berated Super Eagles’ striker, Kelechi Iheanacho over his disrespect to a journalist, Yinka Oyedele of Brila FM, during an encounter in Lagos.
Iheanacho’s attitude, according to a statement by Lagos SWAN’s Chairman, Debo Oshundun, was unsportsmanlike.
“The attention of SWAN Lagos Chapter has been drawn to Super Eagles’ striker Kelechi Iheanacho’s disrespect to one of our members, Yinka Oyedele of Brila FM.
“Oyedele, according to our findings, was arrogantly shoved off by the Leicester City forward while the reporter was making an attempt to interview him after the team’s training on Tuesday.
“Lagos SWAN frowns at this embarrassing act and disrespect to a journalist.
“Oyedele, a professional in the practice, doesn’t deserve such ill treatment from Iheanacho or any national team player,” he said.
Oshundun added “We urge the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to as a matter of urgency call the player to order.
“It is also not out place for the football house to educate the players on etIquette and relationship with the men of the fourth estate of the realm and fans alike.
“Such measures if put in place would prevent future occurrence.
“The Super Eagles take a prime place in every Nigerian journalists’ hearts and treatment such as this can only discourage reporters from doing more and giving their best for the course of our darling national team.
“We wish the senior national team and Iheanacho the best of luck in their reverse 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture against Central Africa Republic on Sunday,” he said. (NAN)
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