Mesut Ozil is not part of the 25-man Arsenal squad that will play in the Premier League and Europa League, and that call was made by Mikel Arteta. The Gunners boss said it was a tough but necessary decision, explaining that leaving out players from the game doesn't give him pleasure.
Arteta dropped Ozil and Sokratis from his official list as regulations required that only 17 foreign players are allowed for clubs competing in the Europa League. The Spaniard's choice will carry over to the Premier League, which indicated that Ozil, who is Arsenal's best-paid player, will not figure in fixtures likely through the end of the season.
The manager said he took no pleasure drawing out the list because he knew that it will be hard for the omitted players as it would mean they cannot get involved.
"I don't like it at all, but the decision had to be made because we have an excess of foreign players. Unfortunately, we had to make that decision," the Standard reported the coach as saying.
However, Arteta insisted that he will work to encourage the excluded players to remain committed to the club. The boss said it's important for Arsenal to make both Ozil and Sokratis realize that they can still matter, if not on the pitch then behind the scene.
Ozil getting ax though did not come as a surprise. The German playmaker last appeared in March before the football games were suspended. But when the football resumed, he was nowhere to be found and Arteta explained Ozil's absence by saying the Gunners are evolving without the player.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Ozil fading out is indicative of the trend in football, in which playmakers have become expendables. The Frenchman said the game has evolved and players like Ozil are being kicked out, per the report from Goal.
Wenger, however, called on his former side to make way for Ozil to be involved again.
For Arteta, the next move will depend on how Ozil will receive the omission. The Spaniard said it was indeed a disappointment to be left out of the squad but players need to make the right decision.
He revealed that when he finalized his squad list, he made sure to deliver the news to Ozil and Sokratis personally, hoping that the two would understand and be guided on what to do next.
Arteta noted that Ozil, for instance, can prove that his game dimensions can still be stretched beyond techniques. The German, after all, has been considered in the past as one of the best as evidenced by his numerous titles and honors.