Mesut Ozil has been excluded from Fenerbahce’s first team, the Turkish club have announced.
The former Arsenal midfielder has been a key player for Fenerbahce since joining the club from the Gunners 14 months ago and captained them in their last league game against Konyaspor, but he was hauled off at half-time in that match.
The Turkish giants have also announced that midfielder Ozan Tufan, who was on loan at Watford at the start of the season before returning to his parent club in February, has also been left out of the first-team squad.
Ozil has been a vital figure in attack for Ismail Kartal’s side this season, scoring nine goals and registering three assists in all competitions. But this news will leave the 33-year-old facing a very uncertain future at Fenerbahce.
The Turkish club’s president, Ali Koc, announced at the end of last year that Ozil was “unhappy” at the Turkish club due to a desire to play more, but revealed that manager Kartal was struggling to get the best out of the midfielder.
“Ozil wants to play more,” Koc said in November. “From now on, he needs to focus on his game and keep his commercial interests out of it. He needs to think about contributing to Fenerbahce.
“Our coach also needs to try to figure out how to get the most out of Ozil. There is not a problem, despite what the media says. Mesut is unhappy because he does not play regularly.”
The former Germany international left Arsenal under a cloud of controversy last year after the midfielder fell out with current Gunners coach Mikel Arteta.
The Spanish coach exiled the German, despite him being on a reported £350,000-a-week contract at the Emirates Stadium, for not adhering to the “non-negotiables” that Arteta wanted from his players.
Arteta left Ozil out of his Premier League and Europa League squads at the start of last season, which meant the midfielder did not play a single competitive minute for the Gunners between his final appearance for the club in March 2020 and his departure in January 2021.
During his final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ozil accused Arsenal of not reciprocating his loyalty. He also went against the club’s decision to let the team’s mascot Gunnersaurus go as matches were played behind closed doors – by offering to reimburse the wages of Jerry Quy, the employee who donned the dinosaur suit.
Meanwhile, in 2019, Arsenal distanced themselves from accusations made by Ozil towards China, with the German claiming that the country were persecuting Uighur Muslims.
When Ozil was axed from the Gunners’ first-team squad at the start of the 2020-21 season, the midfielder posted on social media: “I’m really deeply disappointed by the fact that I have not been registered for the Premier League 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. “
Ozil helped Arsenal to three FA Cups during his time in north London, making over 250 appearances for the Gunners.
The German failed to score in his first half-season at Fenerbahce, but had scored eight league goals for the club this season.
Ozil’s mixed legacy at Arsenal
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright speaking in January 2021:
“Ozil arrived at the Emirates Stadium as one of the game’s most exciting creative talents. A lavishly gifted playmaker who had lit up the 2010 World Cup with Germany and whose assists at Real Madrid – of which there were plenty – had made him Cristiano Ronaldo’s favorite team-mate.
“It took just 11 minutes of his debut, a 3-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, for Ozil to register his first for Arsenal, expertly controlling a long pass from Kieran Gibbs then squaring the ball for Olivier Giroud to finish. There would be many more moments like it in the years ahead.
“Ozil has always had different sides to him. Good and bad. Jaw-dropping and head-scratching. But few players can match his technical brilliance. Few can even see the game in the way he does, let alone do the things he does with the ball at his feet.
“His first two years in north London yielded back-to-back FA Cups either side of a World Cup triumph with Germany. But on an individual level, it was only in his third that it truly clicked for him at Arsenal. His 2015/ 16 season was an intoxicating display of craft and creativity.
“Over the course of that campaign, Ozil had a direct hand in 28 goals in 45 appearances. He provided 19 assists in the Premier League, one short of Thierry Henry’s record, and created 146 chances, a staggering total which remains the highest in a single season since Opta started taking records almost two decades ago.
“The year 2018 encapsulated the ups and downs of his Arsenal career, starting with him signing a new contract worth an eye-watering £350,000 per week and ending with him unceremoniously losing his place in the side.
“In between, Ozil lost Wenger, his most ardent supporter at Arsenal, and announced his international retirement following a tumultuous World Cup campaign with Germany.
Unai Emery [Wenger’s successor] certainly felt motivation was an issue. He spoke about “provoking friction” with Ozil in order to get more out of him in an interview with Sky Sports in January 2019. But those efforts were unsuccessful, culminating in Ozil’s omission from the side just a few months into his tenure.
“Ozil, seemingly unwilling to adhere to Arteta’s “non-negotiables” and unable to replicate his creative output of past seasons, was left to fade into the background, an expensive drain on resources at a time when the club desperately needed them.
“Arteta insists he gave Ozil every chance to win back his place in the side before leaving him out of his Premier League and Europa League squads, the implication being that he failed to take them.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.