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Arteta defends Ozil and Arsenal's contract decision despite absence from squads

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Mikel Arteta has come to the defence of Mesut Ozil after more criticism was levelled at the German due to his absence in team selections since Project Restart begun.

Ozil missed out of the 20-man matchday squad on the first day back at Manchester City, was on the bench against Brighton and Southampton but back out of the squad for the Sheffield United trip.

As revealed by football.london on June 17, the World Cup-winner missed out at the Etihad for tactical reasons, but didn't travel to Bramall Lane due to a back problem which was confirmed by the club.

Despite being yet to field Ozil post-lockdown, Arteta is keen to ensure that he still has confidence in the midfielder - who started every league game under him before the enforced three-month break.

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"I know him really well because I played with him," the Arsenal head coach said about Ozil.

"I think Mesut has unique qualities, he's a very special player for the position he plays. How specific he is in the quality that he has and what he can bring to the team. I don't think much has changed.

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"Obviously, he adapted to the league and he needed some time but he started to perform pretty quickly and established himself in this league for a long time [which is] something that is not easy to do."

A main source of criticism for Ozil in recent years has been that his input in front of goal [goal and assist tallies] have reduced since he signed the contract which made him Arsenal's highest paid player in January 2018.

In Arteta's case, however, he doesn't see what Ozil earns as a deciding factor in whether he plays or not and is encouraged by the fact that being left out of the side leaves the 31-year-old unhappy.

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"Never [do Ozil's wages decide whether he starts]. That's an agreement that the player and club were really happy to do to move ahead and it's never a question. I think players are paid whatever they deserve because they are both parties here and that should never be something I have to judge," he continued.

"I'm expecting a player who is not playing to feel hurt and disappointed. I believe that he's not very happy because he's not playing but as well, he picked [up] an injury the other day and we have to wait and see how he evolves.

"I want all my players at my best and [to] have the ability to pick them to help the squad as much as possible and that's the only intention I have."




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