The German has been heavily linked with a move but there is still a chance that he could fight his way back into Mikel Arteta’s plans.
Arsenal fans might have got used to the fact Mesut Ozil is unlikely to feature much, if at all, for Mikel Arteta’s new-look Gunners side in the coming season.
The Arsenal boss has been keen to make his mark on the club early in his tenure and has spoken about the “non-negotiables” for all his players as he looks to return Arsenal back to the summit of the English game.
Despite a lowly eighth-place finish in the Premier League, Arsenal’s FA Cup victory and wins over Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool at the end of last season suggest the manager is on the right track, helped in part by his demands for players to fall in line.
Matteo Guendouzi reportedly has one foot out the Emirates door after falling foul of Arteta and Mesut Ozil also appeared to be frozen out completely having failed to feature for a single minute for the Gunners following the return to action post-lockdown.
This seemed to signal the final chapter for the German World Cup winner after seven years in north London, a spell which has featured highs like FA Cup wins and moments of magic on the pitch, as well as lows such as a dip in form and a perceived lack of commitment.
Having signed a bumper new contract in 2018, Ozil struggled to adapt to the style of play implemented by Unai Emery, often coming in for criticism for apparent lacklustre displays with that hefty contract regularly thrown in his face.
After losing his place at the start of the following season, Ozil actually went on to start all 10 Premier League matches under Arteta between December and March, suggesting he was part of the new boss’s future plans.
However, Arteta obviously had a change of heart following the enforced three-month break. More recently, the player has been linked with a move away from the club, with Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Nassr touted as a potential destination.
Ozil himself claims he is still fully committed to Arsenal. Speaking in an exclusive Interview with The Athletic, the player said he plans to remain at the club and fight for his place.
“My position is clear,” Ozil said. “I’m here through to the last day of our agreement and I’ll give everything I have for this club.
“I’ll decide when I go, not other people.
“I didn’t sign for two or three years, I signed for four and that should be respected by everyone.
“Whatever happened in the last two seasons, I’m happy and very strong mentally. I never give up on anything.
“I want to help my team and I’ll fight for it. If I’m fit, I know what I can do on the pitch.”
Despite his defiant stance, few believed it would amount to much, particularly as he was absent once again as Arsenal beat Liverpool on penalties to lift the Community Shield.
So, it was something of a shock to see the player back in red and white for the Gunners’ pre-season friendly defeat by Aston Villa.
Always active on social media, Ozil also tweeted afterwards “Season prep is on” suggesting he is ready to feature for Arteta’s team.
There’s no doubt Ozil at his very best could be key to what Arsenal and Arteta are trying to achieve.
Despite their high-profile wins in recent months and the goal threat of star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arteta has bemoaned his side’s lack of creativity going forward.
“At the end of the day [the strikers] have to be the ones scoring the goals and the others have to get the service right and more consistency to get in the right areas more often,” he said after the Premier League loss to Villa in July where the Gunners had 69% possession but failed to register a single shot on target.
The 56 goals Arsenal scored in the league last season is the lowest total they’ve mustered since notching just 49 in 1995/96. Arteta knows that needs to change this term, and a key part of that is fashioning better opportunities.
The signing of Willian from Chelsea has been made to try and fix that problem but perhaps Arteta also believes he can get his No.10 back to somewhere approaching his best form.
Ozil’s most productive campaign at the Emirates saw him register 19 Premier League assists in 2015/16, one short of the record jointly held by former Gunner Thierry Henry in 2002/03 and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne this past season.
Arteta was still playing alongside Ozil at that stage so the manager knows first-hand what his former team-mate can be capable of. It remains to be seen if he trusts the player sufficiently to allow him to try and go some way to repeating that.
Of course, it remains unlikely that one friendly appearance means Ozil has forced his way back into the reckoning but stranger things have happened.