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‘With Ozil distraction gone, Arsenal can talk about something else’ – Winterburn welcomes end of long-running saga

14:12 GMT 22/01/2021
Mesut Ozil Arsenal
The former Gunners defender is looking forward to having other topics to discuss at Emirates Stadium now that a German midfielder has departed

With “the end of Mesut Ozil” being reached at Arsenal, Nigel Winterburn is looking forward to seeing the Gunners find something different to talk about when things go wrong.

The World Cup-winning midfielder is set to bring a seven-and-a-half-year spell at Emirates Stadium to a close by securing a move to Fenerbahce.

As he packs his bags for Turkey, a distracting saga in north London will head through the exits with him.

Mikel Arteta had taken to freezing the German playmaker out of his plans this season, with no competitive action taken in by the 32-year-old since March 2020.

With Arsenal making their worst start to a campaign since 1974-75, questions were inevitably asked of whether the right decisions had been taken.

Ozil remained a topic of regular discussion despite being in a position to see no game time, with the furore surrounding him doing nobody any favours.

That problem has now been removed, with Winterburn relieved to see the Gunners moving in a different direction without a “terrific” but divisive talent on their books.

The former full-back told “That’s the end of Mesut Ozil at Arsenal and now when things go wrong – and things will go wrong again – we won’t be debating whether Ozil should be in the squad, we’ll have much fresher subjects to talk about.

“It’s the right thing. You can’t have someone around a club who’s got huge talent but is just not working for you, you have to get them out and move them on.

“I think he’s got terrific talent, I’ve said that all along. He’s played a key part in some of Arsenal’s success but over the last two or three seasons it’s gone downhill for him.

“It didn’t look like he fitted in to Mikel Arteta’s plans. Whether he didn’t want to do the work that Arteta was demanding from him, I don’t know, but his body language didn’t look quite right.

“If you don’t fit into a system then you’ve got to individually perform to a level where the manager simply can’t drop you and force him to reconfigure the team around you, but unfortunately for Ozil his performances didn’t convince Arteta that that’s what he should do.”

Arsenal have rediscovered a spark over recent weeks, collecting five wins from a six-game unbeaten run, and will be back in FA Cup action on Saturday when they take in a fourth-round clash with Southampton.