Arsenal's decision to drop Mesut Ozil from their 25-man Premier League squad is a "big gamble", according to Paul Merson.
The German midfielder has not played for the Gunners since before lockdown, and on Tuesday the club confirmed he would not be in their Premier League squad for the 2020-21 season.
Ozil was also left out of the squad for the Europa League group stage, meaning he can't play for the Gunners until February at the earliest.
With his contract set to expire at the end of the current season, it is possible that the playmaker has played his final game for Arsenal.
On Wednesday, Ozil reacted to the club's decision by claiming "loyalty is hard to come by" in a post on social media.
Although Ozil has not featured for the Gunners since March, Merson still believes he could have contributed to the cause this season.
"He’s an absolute talent. So, to keep him out of the squad, completely out of the squad, it's a big gamble by Arsenal," Merson told Sky Sports. "He’s on massive wages, no doubting that. He gets fortunes. I'm surprised, it shocked me. When I was told that he’d been left out of the squad I was shocked if I'm being honest, because I am one of his biggest fans."
Merson also pointed out that Ozil has been a recent contributor for the Gunners, having started 10 straight Premier League matches between December and March of last season.
"I think when he's on song, he can play and you've got to remember just before lockdown, he was playing," the former Arsenal star added.
"He was playing in Arteta’s team so for him to come back and then not be in the team and not even get a squad place, yeah I'm quite surprised."
Ozil is the club’s highest-paid player, earning £350,000 ($453,000) a week, but Merson said that the German won't be happy to just sit back and collect his wages.
"It’s a shame. It’s a sad day for Arsenal. It’s a sad day for him if I’m being honest," Merson said. "People go, ‘Oh yeah but he's on 350 grand, what does he care?’ You want to play football. You know when you get to my age and you're not playing football anymore. It soon goes."