Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has spoken out about the ongoing Mesut Ozil situation.
Arteta opened up about whether Ozil’s wages have influenced his team picking decisions and why he has struggled for playing time.
Ozil is the highest-paid player in the Arsenal squad earning £350,000 per-week but he has yet to play a single minute of first-team football since the Premier League resumed following coronavirus disruptions.
Arteta made it clear that Ozil has not played due to a tactical decision and injury – which ruled him out of the FA Cup win over Sheffield United.
Ozil could return for the Premier League game against Norwich tonight but Arteta made it clear that he only picks players based on merit.
Asked whether Ozil’s salary is a factor when it comes to team selection, Arteta replied: “Never.
“That (Ozil’s contract) is an agreement that the player and club were happy to do, to move ahead and it is never something that I question.
“I think players are paid whatever they deserve because there are two parties here and that should never be something I have to judge.”
Arteta also admitted Ozil is unhappy at being sidelined – but said he would expect nothing less from a player wanting to play their part.
“I believe that he’s not very happy because he’s not playing,” he said. “But as well he picked up an injury the other day and we have to wait and see how he evolves.
“I’m expecting a player that is not playing to feel hurt and disappointed. I want all my players at their best and to have the ability to be able to pick them to help the squad as much as possible and that’s the only intention I have.”
Arteta was also full of praise for the playmaker of Turkish origin who he played alongside for three-years before retiring.
“I know him really well because I played with him,” he added.
“Mesut has unique qualities. He is a very special player for the position he plays, how specific he is in the qualities that he has and what he can bring to the team. I don’t think much has changed.
“Obviously he adapted to the league and he needed some time but he started to perform pretty quickly and he established himself in this league for a long time, something that is not easy to do.”