Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted he was not sure Mesut Ozil would return to the Gunners squad in January – but rejected the idea of terminating the players’ contract earlier.
Ozil was not signed up for Arsenal’s Premier League squad before the 2020/21 campaign and has not played for Arteta’s side since their last game before the lockdown on March 7.
The World Cup-winning German midfielder is one of many fringe players to have seen limited minutes this season, and Arteta has indicated that cutting Arsenal’s squad is his number one priority in the window January transfer date. Defender Sead Kolasinac has already joined Schalke on loan.
Ozil’s £ 350,000-a-week contract ends in June 2021, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos – another omitted player from Arsenal’s Premier League squad – is also out of contract at the end of the 2020/21 campaign. However, Arteta rejected the suggestion to end their deals.
“You have to respect the player contracts,” Arteta said (via Sky Sports).
“What you can do is just try to be open with them, tell them your intentions, the role they have on the team and why. They have the right to make the decision in their life because they have a contract here.
“Some would like to move because they are not playing and some would like to stay. This is something we cannot decide for ourselves. ”
Arteta had previously refused to rule out a return to the squad for Ozil – and any potential return from the World Cup winner would divide opinions on Arsenal’s side.
When asked if Ozil could make a surprise return to Arsenal’s first team in January, the Gunners boss replied: “We’ll see what happens in the transfer window and assess at the end.”