Mikel Arteta: ‘I failed with Ozil’ but my ‘conscience is calm’

Mikel Arteta is completely comfortable with his decision to leave Mesut Ozil out of Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads for this season, but admitted feeling a sense of failure at not getting the best from the midfielder.

Ozil, the highest-paid player in Arsenal’s history, appears to have played his last game for the club following his omission from the club’s 25-man squad for the 2020/21 league campaign.

In response, Ozil – whose £350,000-a-week contract expires at the end of the campaign – has accused Arsenal of a lack of loyalty, but vowed to keep “fighting” for his chance.

Arteta said he was not surprised by Ozil’s statement, adding: “Everybody is free to express their feelings.”

On the decision to exclude Ozil, Arteta said: “It was just a football decision and my conscience is very calm because I have been really fair with him.

“My level of communication with him has been high, we know what to expect with each other.

“He has had the opportunities like everybody else. I’m sad that I had to leave three players out of this list but I tried to look everybody in the eye and be comfortable with it.

“With Mesut, I have this feeling because I have been very straight forward since I arrived at this club.

“It’s nothing related to [Ozil’s] behaviour. It’s my decision.”

Ozil, 32, had featured in each of Arteta’s first 10 Premier League matches following the Spaniard’s appointment in December last year, but quickly fell out of favour and has not played since March 7.

Arteta feels he got close to seeing the best version of Ozil but says he takes full responsibility for being unable to improve the German’s performances.

“My job is to get the best out of every player to contribute to the team performance,” Arteta said. “At the moment I feel that I have failed because I want the best possible Mesut for the team.

“In some moments I was able to get close to that but at the moment I haven’t been able to do it.

“This is the reality and we have to face it. The best way is to talk things through face-to-face.

“I take full responsibility, I have to be the one getting the best out of the players.”

With Sky Sports

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