Mesut Ozil has been left out of Arsenal’s 25-man squad for the Europa League group stages.
The club’s highest earning player - who pockets £350,000 ($454,000) a week - is one of two senior players who has been cut by boss Mikel Arteta, whose 25-man squad for the competition is only allowed to include 17 ‘non locally trained players’.
With 19 to choose from, however, Arteta has had to decide which two he would not involve - and Ozil, along with defender Sokratis, has been left out.
Given the German has not played a single minute since football’s restart in June following the coronavirus enforced suspension, it is perhaps no surprise to see him axed from the squad.
Yet the fact he is the club’s highest earner still makes his omission eye-catching, especially as Arteta is expected to use the group stages of the Europa League as an opportunity to give some game time to players who have not been featuring much in the Premier League.
The decision comes just a day after Ozil publicly stated he would be willing to pay the wages of Jerry Quy, the man who has played the role of Gunnersaurus - the Arsenal mascot - for the past 27 years. Ozil’s took to social media to make the offer after it emerged that Quy had been made redundant.
“I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous and loyal mascot Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years,” said the former Real Madrid star. “As such, I’m offering to reimburse Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player so Jerry can continue his job that he loves so much.”
Ozil’s last appearance for Arsenal came in the win against West Ham in March, the final match before football was suspended due to the pandemic.
He has not even made a matchday squad this season, even in the Carabao Cup when Arteta has rung the changes.
When quizzed on the playmaker’s absence after the 2-0 win at Leicester last month, the Arsenal boss said: “The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving. This is where we are at the moment. We want to evolve more and play better and compete better.
“You can see that the players we are changing, we are using, it's very difficult every week not just for Mesut but for some other players as well to make the squad. Every week we try to pick the right players.
“It's difficult for others as well that aren't involved in the Premier League and didn't play tonight either. We have a squad of 26, 27 players at the moment and we can't give playing time to all of them.
“I understand and I respect your questions but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible. I try to select the players that are, in my opinion, in better condition.”
UEFA are due to officially announce Arsenal's 25-man squad for the Europa League group stages on Thursday morning.