Press conference

Arteta on... Mesut Ozil's squad omission

Mikel Arteta has stressed that Mesut Ozil's omission from our Premier League and Europa League squads is entirely down to footballing reasons.

Speaking to the press ahead of our game against Rapid Vienna, our manager was asked about the playmaker’s statement and his future.
This is what he said:
on Mesut Ozil's statement...
Everybody is free to express their feelings. What can I say from my side? It's just a football decision that my conscience is very calm about because I was very fair with him. My level of communication with him has been really high, we know what to expect from each other. When I believe that he could contribute to the team to be better, which is why I was hired to this football club - to become the manager, to win football matches, competitions and create and build a project for the short, medium and long-term. He has had the opportunity like everybody else. I'm sad that I had to leave three players off this list, which is never pleasant, but I just have to say that I tried to look everybody in the eye and be comfortable with it. With Mesut, I had this feeling because I have been very straightforward since I arrived at this club.

on whether Ozil could leave before the end of his contract...
No [that's not the stage we're at]. Obviously a player of that dimension, with the career he's had at international level and everything, everything that happens around him has a big impact. It's been the case for the last eight years. It's nothing new, it's nothing that's just happening now, a lot of things have been happening over these eight years. My job is to get the best out of every player, to contribute to the team and the performance. Here, I feel that at the moment, today, that I've failed because I want the best possible Mesut for the team. In some moments I was able to get close to that but in other moments I haven't been able to because I had to make the decision to leave him out of the squad. This is the reality in football, that anything can happen and I've learnt that over the years. This is the reality and we have to face it. The best way to face it is to talk things through face to face and do it in the right way. This is the way I am and this is the way I'll continue to do it.

on whether Ozil has played his last game for the club...
Honestly, I take full responsibility. I have to be the one getting the best out of the players. It's my responsibility and again, it's nothing related to anything, any behaviour or things like I read, like the pay cuts. It's not true, it's my decision. If someone has to blame me, and that will happen when we lose football matches, it's my responsibility. I have to make the decision to get the best possible squad out there to win football matches and competitions as often as we can. In order to do that, I try to be fair with him and with any other players in the squad to defend, as much as possible, the interests of the football club.

on what Ozil wasn't doing on the pitch to meet Arteta's expectations...
Listen, I cannot discuss the individual performances of every player. Here, as well with Mesut, I feel pain when I have to leave players out. Believe me. It's the same when I had to do it with Papa (Sokratis) and the fact that William is not here with us after he joined the club, because of restrictions we have with the competition. As you can understand, I cannot disclose the technical decisions as to whether I play players or not.
on the plan for Ozil over the next few months...
He's been training with us, he's involved in our squad routines. We expect him to train and do the best he can. We have to treat him [well] and I have to try to keep him as motivated as possible, which is obviously difficult in these circumstances. We'll move forward from here.

on whether Ozil's statement surprised him...
No, it didn't surprise me.
on whether he offered a similar response in person...
Well obviously the players that were told that they were not to be selected, at the least generated disappointment, because they are professional footballers and they want to have the chance to work with the right motivation to try to achieve the possibility to play, and when that doesn't happen it's difficult. But as I said, I'd rather have those difficult conversations face to face, explain the reasons why, and see how things change with time.
on whether something happened during the lockdown period, or more recently...
No, I'm not very focused about what happened during the past, and you will get to know me more, but in the past six years, a lot of the things that happened, I didn't make them. You remember the atmosphere around him when I joined was pretty difficult. I asked our fans to support him and to create a much better atmosphere and you remember and recall you could see the difference at Emirates Stadium in two or three weeks. And that was a way in my opinion to support a player and look for the interests of the football club as much as possible. But then I have to see on a daily basis, the input, the performance and what every player brings to the team, and from there I make the decision because I am the manager and have to pick the right players to win football matches.
on whether he gets angry about presumptions of outside influence on him…
No, I am not angry because probably they need as well to clarify the situation and I understand, and I am here to respond to your question. But I don’t want to hide behind anyone at the club or the ownership. At the end of the day, we are talking about a player playing on that field or not. I think we will respond to every obligation we have at a football club, and then it is my responsibility to get the best out of the players and get the performances we need to play football matches. But believe me that is nothing to do with the board, owners or anything like it.

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