The ex-Gunner thinks the “best option for everyone” is for the midfielder to leave Emirates Stadium due to the “unhealthy” culture he has created
Martin Keown has slammed Mesut Ozil’s attitude, insisting the Arsenal outcast “needs to fall in line”.
Ozil has racked up 254 appearances for Arsenal since moving to Emirates Stadium from Real Madrid in the summer of 2019, scoring 44 goals and providing 77 assists.
The ex-Germany international was a talismanic figure under Arsene Wenger, but fell out of favour under the Frenchman’s successor, Unai Emery, who questioned his fitness levels and defensive contribution.
However, Emery was sacked last November after just 18 months in the hot seat, with Mikel Arteta drafted in as his replacement a month later, and the former Arsenal captain initially brought Ozil back in from the cold.
The 31-year-old was a regular in Arteta’s line up until the coronavirus stopped play in March, but has since found himself exiled from the first-team squad.
Ozil didn’t feature for Arsenal post-lockdown, and continues to be left out at the start of the 2020-21 season, having recently entered the final year of his contract.
He has still managed to make headlines away from the pitch though, as he refused to take a pay-cut along with the rest of the squad amid the club’s attempts to reduce spending in the absence of supporters.
The former Madrid playmaker raised more eyebrows when he offered to pay the wages of popular Arsenal mascot Jerry Quy, who donned the famous Gunnarsaurus suit for 27 years before being sacked earlier this summer.
Ozil remains one of the top earners at the Emirates despite no longer being a part of Arteta’s plans, and Keown thinks his continued presence has created an “unhealthy” environment.
“One assumes that Arteta would’ve given him an opportunity and he’s not really happy with Ozil’s work ethic,” the Gunners legend told talkSPORT. “He’s not someone the others can learn off.
“I actually think he’s got a good heart, because of what he does for charity, but when he questions giving up a percentage of his wage which affects everyone else, I don’t think it’s his place to do that. He needs to fall in line.
“If you think of the money it’s costing Arsenal… £18million-a-year, that the equivalent of the interest payments when they took out a loan on the Emirates Stadium. That’s how restrictive that has been.
“They need to cut their losses and pay him off. It sends a message to the group, creates a new culture, and allows them to move on, because at the moment it’s become unhealthy.”
Ozil was left out of Arsenal’s 25-man Europa League squad on Thursday, and Keown says it is in the best interest of both parties if he moves onto pastures new as soon as possible.
“Nobody will be happy with this, nobody wants to see the back of Ozil,” he added. “We want him to play football, but right now the best option for everyone is for him to leave and go quietly.
“He can be fantastic somewhere else. He needs to look at himself right now and I don’t think he is. It’s that oxygen when you play, you can breathe when you play and he can’t breathe at the moment.
“Isn’t there enough money in the bank now? It’s a short career and he’ll look back thinking he was denied the opportunity to play, but he hasn’t played his part to change that.”