Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal career is over.
The German is in the final year of his £350,000-per-week contract and has been left out of both the club’s Europa League and Premier League squads for the season.
The playmaker could still be named in either squad come January but it seems it’ll now take a miracle to see him play a competitive game for Arsenal again.
Ozil reacted to the news in an emotional social media post on Wednesday.
He wrote: "This is a difficult message to write to the @Arsenal fans that I’ve played for over the past few years. I’m really deeply disappointed by the fact that I have not been registered for the @premierleague season for the time being.
"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. As I have just found out, loyalty is hard to come by nowadays.
"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. Before the Coronavirus break I was really happy with the 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.
"But then things changed, again, and I was no longer allowed to play football for Arsenal. What else can I say? London still feels like home, I still have many good friends in this team, and I still feel a strong connection with the fans of this club. No matter what, I will keep fighting for my chance and not let my 8th 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."
That final sentence is particularly interesting.
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.
To mention “inhumanity” and “justice” suggests that he’s talking way beyond football.
In fact, according to the Daily Mail, that is why Ozil think he’s been exiled by Arsenal.
The German is ‘convinced’ that the club’s commercial interests in China is the reason behind the decision to drop him from both the Europa League and Premier League squads.
Last December, Ozil condemned China's alleged mistreatment of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province in an Instagram post.
Ozil wrote: "East Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion.
"They burn their Qurans. They shut down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men. The men are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men. The women are forced to marry Chinese men.
"But Muslims are silent. They won't make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don't they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?"
But Arsenal moved quickly to distance themselves from Ozil’s post, saying: "Regarding the comments made by Mesut Ozil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement.
"The content published is Ozil's personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics."
Arsenal have a significant commercial presence in China, where the club have a restaurant chain, an official lottery partner and vehicle provider.
It resulted in China's state broadcaster, CCTV, dropping coverage of Arsenal's Premier League game against Manchester City the next day, and Ozil's comments were condemned by the Chinese foreign ministry and the Chinese FA.
He was removed from Chinese editions of Pro Evolution Soccer and his profile was deleted from the social media platform Weibo, on which he had four million followers.
While Ozil thinks the reason behind his exile is for commercial reasons, Mikel Arteta accepted responsibility for the decision.
"What I can say from my side is that it is a football decision. My conscience is very calm because I have been really fair with him," Arteta said.
"I have to be the one getting the best out of the players. It is my responsibility. It is nothing related to any behaviour or, like I read, the pay cuts.
"It's my decision. If someone has to (be blamed) blame me. Here I feel at the moment that I have failed."
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