Mikel Arteta has confirmed a decision will be taken over Mesut Ozil’s future in “the next few days”.
The 32-year-old has been frozen out by Arteta this season and his contract is set to expire in the summer.
Ozil is free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign sides with a view to a summer move, but has also been linked with a possible switch to Fenerbahce in the current transfer window.
A January move would involve a small fee and shift the midfielder’s £350,000-a-week salary off the wage bill six months early, but Ozil’s agent has confirmed the player’s “priority is to stay” until the end of his contract when his options will likely be broader.
Deal must be ‘good for both parties’
“We will decide what’s happening in the next few days,” Arteta said on Thursday.
“I don’t know what is going to happen. Obviously now he’s free to negotiate with other clubs. We will discuss internally what the best solution for him is for the near future, obviously with the player and agent too, and try to find the best solution for everyone.
“If something was sorted this month, it’s because it is good for both parties, it is good for Mesut and his future, and it’s good for the club. If that’s the case, we will move forward. If it’s not the case, the player will stay here.”
Ozil continues to be the elephant in the room at Arsenal as they scamper to sign a creative midfielder this month.
The Gunners are 11th in terms of chances created in the Premier League this term, which mirrors their lowly league position and has prompted transfer links to Emiliano Buendia, Isco and Julian Draxler.
Buendia is the favourite to seal a move to Arsenal, while they are also among the destinations deemed most likely for Isco.
Arsenal reliant on wide players
It is perhaps indicative of their struggles through the middle that the Gunners are disproportionately reliant on wide players when it comes to chance-creation. Kieran Tierney is the club’s leading creative outlet this term, producing 21 opportunities for teammates, and starred in their recent 4-0 win over West Brom.
Tierney, Willian, Bukayo Saka and Hector Bellerin have combined to set up 68 shots this season, while the top four central midfielders have made just 27 between them.
A significant proportion of those chances were provided by their most productive central man, Dani Ceballos. The Spaniard has laid on 16 opportunities for teammates this term, registering just one assist, making him the 49th most creative player in the division.
By contrast, Ozil created 38 chances last season, the second-most of anyone at the club despite only featuring in 18 matches.
Which makes Edu’s assertion that Arsenal “don’t have [midfield creativity] in the squad right now” all the more intriguing. This while Ozil, who has shattered several chance creation records since arriving in north London, continues to train with the club.
“I think every player wants to play football,” said Arteta of Ozil on Thursday. “This is why we picked this profession and we are so lucky to be doing what we do.”
Will Ozil play for Arsenal again?
Arteta intends to assess the situation after the January transfer window, but will he provide a route back for Ozil? The Germany international is eligible but unlikely to feature in FA Cup fixtures, while the Arsenal manager must update his squad lists at the end of the winter window.
A return to the Premier League squad looks improbable at best at this stage, meaning his time would be up even if a move doesn’t materialise this month.
Arsenal’s first January signing to be announced soon
Elsewhere, reports claimed Arsenal have completed the £900,000 signing of Tunisia defender Omar Rekik, 19, from Hertha Berlin.
Arsenal newboy Omar Rekik trained with the U23s today (pictured in background). pic.twitter.com/azYvOOybT2
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) January 6, 2021
Rekik has already been pictured training with the club’s u23s, and Arteta confirmed they will make the official announcement “when we possibly can” during Thursday’s press conference.
He added: “He’s a young talent that we’ve been following for a while who we believe has a bright future.”
Rekik never played for Hertha in the Bundesliga but was part of the top-flight matchday squad on several occasions.