Mesut Ozil is thought to have become a source of division in the Arsenal squad, with players taking separate sides over the issue of whether the 32-year-old should be brought back into the fold.
Ozil last played for Arsenal in early March, over nine months ago, in what proved to be the club’s final game before the first coronavirus lockdown. He was on the bench a couple of times during ‘Project Restart’ in summer, before a mysterious back injury ruled him out of the rest of the season.
Ozil was subsequently left out of Arsenal’s 25-man squad for both the Premier League and Europa League in the first half of this season. But the halfway stage of the campaign permits clubs to make changes and the club’s former record signing at least has a chance of coming in from the cold.
Manager Mikel Arteta hasn’t ruled anything out so far. But whatever decision the Gunners boss makes on Ozil’s immediate future could displease other members of the squad.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Ozil's omission so far this season is a ‘major factor’ in the divisions that have grown in the Arsenal squad over the course of the campaign. It is said that a group of senior players at the Emirates Stadium support the 2014 World Cup winner.
Ozil signed a three-year contract worth an estimated £350,000 per week in 2018. Until Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s new deal earlier this year, he was Arsenal’s top earner and is still now among the highest paid in the Premier League.
That deal is due to expire at the end of this season, which could mean Ozil leaves as a free agent at the end of June. If it becomes clear he will not return to the Arsenal squad, however, he could push to leave in January instead and has been heavily linked with Fenerbahce.
MLS club D.C. United have also been rumoured to be interested and a January move to Washington would be perfect timing to prepare for the 2021 season kick-off in March.