Mikel Arteta takes full responsibility for Mesut Ozil’s exclusion from the Arsenal squad and insists the decision is down to football reasons - and not the player refusing to take a pay cut or his behaviour.
Ozil has been left out of Arsenal’s squads for both the Europa League and Premier League this season, meaning he is unable to play competitive football before the January transfer window opens.
The German, who is into the final year of his £350,000 a week contract, responded on Wednesday in a strong statement on Instagram.
Ozil claimed his loyalty to Arsenal, who he joined in 2013 from Real Madrid, had not been reciprocated and he was disappointed to be left out of their squads.
The 32-year-old’s absence has sparked speculation about why he is not involved, having been a regular until football shutdown in March.
It has been claimed Ozil’s exclusion is down to his refusal to take pay-cut, while his attitude has been called into question, but Arteta has dismissed that.
“Well everybody is free to express his feeling. What I can say from my side is that it is just a football decision,” he said.
“My conscience is very calm because I have been really fair with him. My level of communication with him has been really high and we know what to expect with each other.
“When I believed that he could contribute to the team to be better - which is why I was hired to this football club, to win football matches and competitions, and create and build a project in the short, medium and long term - he has had the opportunities like everybody else.
“Honestly I take full responsibility. I have to be the one getting the best out of the players. It is my responsibility.
“It is nothing related to any behaviour or, like I read, the pay-cuts. It’s not true. It’s my decision, if someone has to blame me.
“And it will happen when we lose football matches - 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 or with any of the players in the squad and defend as much as possible the interests of the club.”