Mesut Ozil will be hurting over his Arsenal exclusion under Mikel Arteta but has himself to blame, according to former Arsenal defender Lauren.
The 32-year-old has been frozen out at Arsenal after being overlooked for the club’s Premier League and Europa League squads for this season.
Ozil, the highest-paid player in Arsenal’s history, played in every Premier League game under Arteta last season before the campaign was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic but has not featured since.
The German World Cup winner, whose £350,000-a-week contract expires at the end of this season, has accused Arsenal of a lack of loyalty and vowed to keep “fighting” for his chance.
But Lauren, who made 159 appearances for Arsenal between 2000 and 2007, believes Ozil has to look at himself before blaming others.
“Ozil is a top player, it’s sad to see a top player not being involved in a team like Arsenal,” Lauren told Sky Sports News.
“All of us who follow Arsenal want to see the best players but this situation has not come from now. I believe it is the same with (Unai) Emery and Arteta.
“Arteta would love to have the best players in the squad. If Ozil is not there it’s a consequence of many issues.
“First of all, it’s the fault of the player. I believe if you have the quality, if you are a top player, if you are not involved week in week out I believe that is your own fault.
“Obviously all of the club have to try to do their best in order to make the player happy and be in the squad and be in the team and play every weekend.
“But the fact that with Emery and now with Arteta he hasn’t been consistent it is not the manager. I believe it is more the player than the manager or the club.
“This is what I believe because if you have the quality, if you are a top player and you are one hundred per cent committed in the team they will play you, they won’t have any other option.
“If you are doing everything that you should do as a top player it is difficult for a manager and a club to say look you are not going to play, you are not going to be involved in the team.
“Of course it hurts (Ozil). It hurts (me) because I would love to see the best players in my team. I would love to see the best players playing for Arsenal.
“They’re the team that I follow, they’re the team that I love and I would like to see the best players in that squad but if he is not there it’s a consequence of so many issues that came from the past.”
Wenger: Ozil-Arsenal confrontation not just down to sport
Arsene Wenger, who signed Ozil in 2013 for a then-club-record £42m, has defended the player in his new autobiography My Life in Red and White.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the former Arsenal boss said: “Mesut Ozil is an exceptional football player. What happens at the moment between him and the club looks to be more confrontational. It’s not based only on sport.
“Why is he not playing at the moment? I don’t know. When you’re a football player you have to respect the decision of your manager and fight to get the confidence back and fight to get back in the team. He can fight, contrary to what people think. He has enough quality to get back into the team, that’s down to him now.”
Asked why Ozil is not in Arteta’s plans, Wenger said: “I don’t know.
“I believe he can play in the Premier League. You practise every day and you make sure if it doesn’t work you can go and play somewhere else.”
Merson: A big gamble by Arsenal, Ozil’s wages are Wenger’s fault
Former Arsenal forward and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson:
“The lad has got talent so to keep him out of the squad completely is a big gamble by Arsenal. I don’t know if Arsenal are trying to make a stand to say they just want him out, that’s the only reason I can think of.
“It’s a sad day for Arsenal and a sad day for him. People will say: ‘He’s on £350,000, what does he care’, but it doesn’t matter how much money you have got, this lad wants to be playing football.
“I don’t think his game has changed, he plays the same way as he’s played for many years. The game is evolving and there aren’t many number 10s anymore who can just do what they want.
“The game has changed around him and he’s not been able to adapt to that. He’s been used to playing around greatness and as the Arsenal team deteriorated, his game went and he’s the one who was punished.
“Now it’s becoming a bit of a chess game. He knows he isn’t playing and he’ll say: ‘You mess me about, I’ll mess you about’. You don’t want it to end like that.
“I don’t think he gets the appreciation he deserves. His wages have affected the Arsenal fans in certain ways, that’s upset them. That wasn’t his fault, that was Arsene Wenger’s fault. What he was doing giving Ozil that kind of money, I don’t know, only he can answer that.
“This should have been done with five or six months ago, they should have sat around the table with him and swallowed a pill.
“If he digs his feet in and doesn’t play for another season, is that his career over? Maybe. Then he’ll be sitting down aged 36 or 37 thinking: ‘Why didn’t I go and play football?’
“Ozil can go anywhere in the world, if his wages are reasonable. He’s earned enough. If he wants to play football, every club in America would have him.”