Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has endured a tumultuous time at the Emirates over the past couple of seasons, having fallen down the pecking order under current manager Mikel Arteta. The former Real Madrid superstar has become synonymous with controversies as he sees off the final year of his contract. Despite being dropped from the squads for the Premier League as well as the Europa League, the German maestro was included in the Arsenal team photo, much to the surprise of the club's fans.
Arsenal published the team photos on its social media pages, a shoot which was characterised by the new normal - social distancing. The players are seen standing at a distance from each other in a triangular position, with Arteta at the tip of the shape. The manager has the FA Cup and the Community Shield, the two titles the Gunners won last season, placed in front of him.
📸 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐥— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 18, 2020
Our men's first team for 2020/21 ✊🔴 pic.twitter.com/0K392ahN7d
Interestingly, Ozil was included in the Arsenal team photo despite being at loggerheads with the club. The midfielder, who hasn't played an official game with Arsenal since March 7, is seen standing back right in the snap, donning the number 10 shirt. His inclusion in the photo session surprised many, largely due to his unrepairable relationship with the Emirates hierarchy.
Ozil has struggled under both Unai Emery and Arteta. The 32-year-old has been quite vocal against the atrocities inflicted on the Uighur community in China, which is touted by some as the main reason for the club sidelining him. Following his comments, the club separated themselves from his views.
Ozil, who is currently the highest-paid player at the club, pockets £350,000 a week. Arsenal reportedly wanted to get rid of him last summer but were forced to keep him after finding no suitors for his hefty paycheck. Nonetheless, his contract expires at the end of the current season and he will be a free agent in June next year.
Last month, Ozil had the opportunity to leave the Gunners, with Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr keen on signing him, as per Fabrizio Romano's Here We Go podcast. A £5 million bid was officially submitted, but the amount was not sufficient to convince the German to leave the Emirates.