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Mesut Ozil 'convinced' Arsenal snubbed him from squad to protect commercial interests after China comments – reports

Mesut Ozil 'convinced' Arsenal snubbed him from squad to protect commercial interests after China comments – reports
Mesut Ozil is reportedly adamant that Arsenal left him out of their Premier League and UEFA Europa League squads because of his comments on China, despite boss Mikel Arteta’s insistence it was a footballing decision.

After the Gunners – who had already left him out of the Europa League squad – did not include him in their 25-man roster for the Premier League on Tuesday, Ozil took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his disappointment at the decision.

He slammed the club for failing to show him “loyalty” and in a pointed dig he finished the statement by saying: “I will continue to train as best as I can and wherever possible use my voice against inhumanity and for justice.”

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In December last year, Ozil drew attention to China’s treatment of their Uighur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region, where more than one million people have reportedly been detained in camps the Chinese have branded “re-education centers,” having initially denied their existence.

Despite Arsenal immediately distancing the club from his comments, their match with Manchester City two days later was dropped by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

It’s said the north London outfit also have significant commercial interests in the country, “where the club own a restaurant chain and have an official lottery partner and vehicle provider, which has strengthened Ozil's conviction that he has been singled out.”

The playmaker was criticized by Chinese officials for his comments, and his profile on Weibo, a social media outlet akin to Twitter where he had four million followers, was shut down. He was also removed from the Chinese release of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer video game series.

After his statement on Wednesday, a number of fans also expressed their belief that Ozil’s comments had cost him his place in the side.

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Manager Arteta denied that any external factors were behind his decision to leave out the playmaker, who is the club’s highest earner on £350,000 per week.

“What I can say from my side is that it is a football decision,” he said. “My conscience is very calm because I have been really fair with him.

“I have to be the one getting the best out of the players. It is my responsibility. It is nothing related to any behavior or, like I read, the pay cuts.

“It’s my decision. If someone has to [be blamed] blame me. Here I feel at the moment that I have failed.”

Ozil made the comments on December 13, and between then and the season being put on hold in March due to the pandemic, he featured in all but one Premier League match.

However, he has not made it onto the pitch once since March 7 and hasn’t even made the bench since June.

The 32-year-old’s form has undoubtedly taken a downturn in recent years. He has racked up a total of 44 goals and 77 assists during his time at the club, but since the start of the 2018-19 campaign he has scored just seven times and assisted six goals.

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Nevertheless, given he’s one of the most technically gifted and creative players in English football - not to mention his enormous wages - it still seems a bizarre decision to almost completely cut him off from first-team football.

He won’t get another chance to play until December 22 in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal, and then in January when the FA Cup begins.