Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil has confessed that he believes it is unfair that he was not given a fair opportunity to prove himself on the pitch following the Premier League's restart.
The German, who is no stranger to getting frozen out by managers at the Emirates, failed to feature in any of Arsenal's last ten matches of the season, even failing to make the matchday squad for all but two of those matches.
A back injury was cited as the underlying cause for that absence, but speaking to The Athletic, Özil insisted he was perfectly healthy and could not understand why Arteta was not giving him the chance to play.
“I can’t talk about my private conversations with the coach,” he began. “But I can tell you I know my body well. I was fit enough to play every game before the break and, apart from a small injury, it was the same after. My daughter was born while we were off so maybe I was not always sleeping perfectly, but this is normal. I actually had more energy and excitement to play because of her.
“As a player, you sometimes have bad days and can’t always be happy, especially if you’re not playing. When you know how good you are and you know you’re not going to be picked, it’s hard to be at 100% and, of course, you can get disappointed. This is my profession, it’s what I love doing: being on the pitch, playing matches, showing the people, helping the club and my team.
“I fully respect the coach’s decision but I believe these things should mainly be decided on the pitch. After the restart, I wasn’t given a chance to show what I can do. You don’t play ten games in a row if you’re unfit, not good enough or don’t behave well. If I played these games badly and was then left out completely for that reason then I might understand, but this was not the case.”
With Özil struggling to make an impact at the Emirates these days, Arsenal are understood to be keen to part ways with the midfielder and his £350,000-a-week wages, with the idea of a pay-off being suggested recently.
However, as has always been the line from Özil's agent, the 31-year-old intends to see out the remaining year of his contract.
“My position is clear,” he added. “I’m here through to the last day of our agreement and I’ll give everything I have for this club. Situations like these will never break me, they only make me stronger. I showed in the past that I can come back into the team and I will show it again.
“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. Things have obviously been difficult but I love Arsenal, I love to work there, I love the people in the club — the real people, those I’ve been with for a long time — and I love London, it’s my home."