The Mikel Arteta vs Mesut Ozil war is in the news again, after latest reports revealed that the Arsenal dressing room has picked a side in the dispute. The players have apparently chosen to side with their coach, Arteta, on the issue.
Last week, Ozil learned that he was not a part of Arsenal’s Europa League squad for this season’s tournament. It was evidence of how far the German has fallen out of favour at the club, despite being Arsenal’s best-paid and longest-serving footballer.
Ozil was brought to Arsenal by Arsene Wenger in the summer of 2013, with the Gunners paying a whopping £42m for his services. The German enjoyed his best stint at Arsenal under the Frenchman, even though he was nowhere near Wenger’s best signing at the club.
However, the Frenchman also endured the same problems with Ozil which have bugged the managers who succeeded him, with the German missing from training sessions due to mysterious injuries or illness.
Alex Sanchez’s departure for Manchester United in 2018 put Arsenal football club on the backfoot, especially with Ozil yet to sign a contract. The Gunners reacted by offering the German a blockbuster salary of £350,000 per week and the German signed a 3-year contract to become the highest-paid Arsenal footballer of all time.
When Unai Emery took over at Arsenal, he promised to get the best out of his German midfielder. However, that dream never saw the light of the day and Ozil ended up being frozen out of the team.
Mikel Arteta promised the same when he took over the reins at the Emirates, but that sense of déjà vu was complete when the ‘Ozil’ problem at Arsenal yielded no solutions again.
And, now it seems that the players have picked sides in the Ozil vs Arteta battle as well.
Arsenal dressing room did not want Ozil as Captain under Unai Emery
The signs of rot were perhaps evident in Emery’s reign as well and the Spanish manager shed light on his troubles with Ozil at Arsenal, in an interview with the Guardian earlier this year.
He recalled talking to the German and constantly trying to motivate him. Emery also revealed that he respected Ozil enough to consider making him the Arsenal captain.
However, the German did not have the support of the dressing room.
He could have been a captain, but the dressing room didn’t want him to be. That’s not what I decided; that’s what the players decided. Captains are ones who have to keep defending the club, the coach, teammates.
Perhaps the fact that the players did not stir up a fuss at Emery’s decision to isolate Ozil from the squad reveals that the German had lost the confidence of the dressing room long back.
Current manager Arteta, on the other hand, has received rave reviews for galvanizing the Arsenal team, while there are clear signs that the dressing room is backing the former Manchester City assistant coach.
After signing a new contract, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reiterated his belief in Arteta’s project, revealing that it was the main reason why he stayed on at the Arsenal. The Spaniard has also received praise from fellow managers Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola for rejuvenating the team on the pitch.
Despite being in his first job in management, Arteta displayed tremendous courage by freezing out such an iconic figure at Arsenal, especially since Ozil is only 7 years younger than him and has won a lot in football.
But the fact that Arteta dealt with the German with an iron fist and still managed to retain the support of the Arsenal squad perhaps indicates that the dressing room is firmly behind him in this row.Published 15 Oct 2020, 19:59 IST