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Arteta: I failed with Ozil

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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.”

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Kelechi Iheanacho’s record goal helps Leicester qualify for last 16 FA Cup

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Leicester city needed the goal from Nigerian footballer Kelechi Iheanacho to avoid a shock elimination from the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at Walsall on Saturday.

The Nigerian has scored more goals in the competition than any other player since making his debut in 2016.

Iheanacho’s 17th goal in 23 FA Cup appearances had some fortune as his strike from the edge of the box took a deflection for the only goal 23 minutes from time.

Leicester, Leeds and Man United join Manchester City as the first four sides to book their place in the last 16 of the competition.

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French footballer gets 30-year ban for punching referee

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An amateur footballer in France, described as a “fanatic”, was on Friday banned from playing for 30 years for punching a referee.

“The penalty is appropriate. These fanatics must not be able to set foot on a football pitch again. They have no place there,” said Benoit Laine, president of the Loiret football district in central France.

The 25-year-old player, who was not named by officials, was angry at being sent off while featuring for Entente Sportive Gatinaise in a local cup game on January 8.

He punched the referee so hard that the official was signed off work for two days.

The team was also kicked out of the tournament for the next two seasons.

AFP

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Serie A: Peseiro praises Osimhen’s scoring feats for Napoli

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Nigerian forward, Victor Osimhen

Super Eagles coach José Peseiro is excited over the scoring form of Victor Osimhen in the Serie A for Napoli.

Osimhen has been in superb form this season netting 13 goals from 18 matches for Napoli to become the leading scorer in the Serie A this season and Peseiro believes the striker still has a lot in his tanks to offer for his club and country.

In an interview with Italy-based Il Mattino, Peseiro said: “Victor Osimhen is incredible, he is never satisfied. Even when he scores and he is decisive”.

The Napoli centre-forward has experienced exponential growth, explains the national team coach, in his search for the “best position in the area. And then he is constantly fighting for second balls”.

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He added: “The athletic trainer of the national team is in contact with that of Naples. Elements and data are continuously exchanged to keep up to date.”

Meanwhile, Italian legend Fabio Capello has backed Osimhen’s Napoli to win only their third-ever Scudetto title.

Napoli have the chance to go 16 points clear of the Giallorossi at the top of the table when they face them at the weekend.

Speaking to Radio Kiss Kiss (via Corriere dello Sport), Capello credited Napoli’s rise to coach Luciano Spalletti, urging the club to stay concentrated going into the second half of the season.

“Napoli must remain concentrated, they must not give up. But the team is there and seems to have no problems. The players have now understood what their strength is, great credit also goes to Spalletti.”

“Champions League? Napoli is dangerous for all teams, if they play with humility, they can go on anywhere. Kvara and Osimhen are doing very well but let’s not forget who is behind them, the other players highlight their work.”

Napoli welcome Roma this weekend in their next big test.

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