Laurent Koscielny has weighed into the debate over Mesut Ozil’s omission from Arsenal’s plans, insisting his former team-mate is ‘always professional’ and ‘undoubtedly’ has the quality to start for the Gunners.
The 2018 World Cup winner – who is earning £350,000 per week at Arsenal – has been ruthlessly axed by Mikel Arteta, excluding him from both his Premier League and Europa League 25-man squads.
And Ozil’s exclusion has led to a war of words between both Arteta and the German playmaker’s agent, who accused the Arsenal boss of being ‘dishonest’ over his client’s exile.
Laurent Koscielny has hailed Mesut Ozil’s ability on the pitch, labelling the German a ‘maestro’
Ozil has been axed from Mikel Arteta’s Premier League and Europa League squads
And former Gunners captain Koscielny has backed Ozil in the furore surrounding his future, telling L’Equipe via Sport Witness: ‘As a man, he’s a very good person, who got along with all his team-mates.
‘He gave a lot, helped sick children. He is a generous person, with whom I got along very well. As a player, he is in my opinion a phenomenon. He can find passes that no one sees, he’s a maestro. He can rock a game with incredible passes.’
Koscielny – who played with Ozil at the Emirates between 2013 and 2019 – went onto add that the midfielder is a ‘real talent’ that would only help Arsenal’s laboured attack.
The Frenchman said: ‘We’re both part of the “Arsene Wenger Generation”. The coach loved him as a player. It was more complicated with Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta. Knowing him, he must always be professional in training, always on time.
‘He is undoubtedly at the level demanded by the Premier League. There is probably a certain case with the club since last year, I hope both sides find a deal that works for everyone.
Unai Emery also excluded Ozil from his plans for the majority of his tenure at Arsenal
‘He is a competitor. I hope to see him back on the pitch soon, at Arsenal or elsewhere, because he is real talent.’
Ozil – who originally blasted Arsenal of lacking ‘loyalty’ – has not featured under Arteta since last season was brought to a halt in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And before Arteta was appointed as manager last December, Ozil had also been watching on from the sidelines during the majority of Unai Emery’s tenure.
The 32-year-old’s days at the Emirates appear all but over and following the decision to omit Ozil this season, his agent Dr Erkut Sogut launched a staunch defence of his client and criticised Arteta – who said the decision was ‘football’ related – over how the situation has unfolded.
Sogut told ESPN: ‘Arsenal fans deserve an honest explanation, not [Arteta] saying, “I failed Ozil.”
‘You didn’t fail Ozil. You failed to be fair, honest and transparent and treat someone with respect who has a contract and was loyal all the time.
‘Every single person outside knows he hasn’t treated him fairly. He didn’t give him a chance to show himself this season. If he is still under contract, the player should have the option to stay and fight for his place. Mesut hasn’t been given that.
Ozil hasn’t played for Arsenal since last season was stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak
‘I spoke with at least five team-mates who say he is training great. They say Mesut is one of their best players, and they cannot understand why he is left out. So it can’t be the training. If it is not the pitch, what are the footballing reasons? If you talk, you should tell the truth that the Arsenal fans deserve, otherwise don’t talk at all.’
But Arteta hit back before Arsenal’s defeat to Leicester, claiming he has remained ‘honest’ over Ozil’s enforced absence.
Arteta said, via The Mirror: ‘If you have to lead, they have to trust you. In order for them to trust you, you have to be honest.
‘You have to be clear and you have to be able to tell people, face to face, the good and bad news.
‘Then you have to be consistent in what you say, the demands you put in and what you apply.
‘When things happen, you applaud them and then when they don’t, there are consequences. Then you create a culture and within that culture people have to be accountable.
Dr Erkut Sogut (right) slammed the Arsenal head coach for his treatment of the playmaker
Ozil had blasted Arsenal for lacking ‘loyalty’ in a statement but stopped short of blaming Arteta
‘People have to step up and they have to demand the standards we need of each other from this football club in order to be successful.’
Since Ozil’s axe, he has been taking to Twitter to let his followers know that he is still supporting his team-mates on from home.
He provided a live commentary on his Twitter feed as Arsenal came from behind to beat Rapid Vienna 2-1 in the Europa League last Thursday before taking to social media ahead of the defeat against Leicester.
Prior to Sunday’s match at the Emirates, Ozil posted highlights of Arsenal’s 3-1 victory at home to Leicester in 2018, where he shone as Man of the Match.
He wrote: ‘Ok, Gooners. A little warmup for tonight to get in the mood for the big clash against @LCFC.’
Ozil then tweeted: ‘My prediction for today – 2:1 for the @Arsenal! goal scorers: Auba, Laca … and the creative Maddison for LFC. What are yours?’ before wishing Luiz a speedy recovery after pulling up in the second half.
Ozil was once again supporting his team-mates from home on Sunday against Leicester