Mesut Özil will be left off Arsenal’s Premier League 25-man roster, per multiple reports. The news, while not unexpected, probably marks the “end” of his time at the club. He’s under contract through the end of the season, but it’s not likely he plays again for Arsenal. Sokratis is expected to be the other senior player left out; the pair were both not named to the Europa League roster, as well.
It’s a melancholy reminder that football can be a brutal business. Mesut Özil is a World Cup winner. He joined Arsenal as the record signing at the time. He was arguably the best midfielder in the Premier League for a two or three season spell. He was a great, great player at the height of his powers. He had the pieces to become a club legend, and this is how it ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper.
Mesut Özil will be fine. He’s got 8 more months of being the highest earner at Arsenal, and £350K per-week will help cushion any disappointment he may feel.
I can understand the move from Mikel Arteta’s perspective. Özil is not part of the long-term plan, so why take minutes away from somebody who is? He’s not finished as a footballer — he can probably still offer something on the pitch — but perhaps not enough to justify his inclusion. Arteta seems to believe that Özil doesn’t fit anywhere into his tactical setup either, that his game doesn’t match the way he wants the club to play. Those are all Mikel Arteta’s decisions to make as manager. And I’m not ruling out the possibility that there is something else going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about and may never know about.
I just wish it all could have happened differently. I would’ve liked Mesut Özil at Arsenal to end in a better, more celebratory way.