Mesut Ozil’s wane at the Emirates is “a shame” for Arsenal youngsters such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli because he may have aided their development, believes Danny Simpson.
The German playmaker has had a curious few seasons in north London having been cast to the fringes of the first-team squad under Unai Emery.
After the Spaniard was sacked, Ozil enjoyed a revival under Mikel Arteta and played in all of the new manager’s first 10 Premier League matches.
But since England’s top-flight was forced into a three-month break by the coronavirus pandemic, Ozil has yet to make a single appearance.
Left out of the match-day squad against Manchester City in mid-June due to “tactical” reasons, the 31-year-old was an unused substitute against Brighton and Southampton.
He has since been absent from the 20-man squad for clashes with Norwich, Wolves and Leicester due to apparent back soreness.
Having suddenly fallen out of favour with Arteta despite being an ever-present before the COVID-19-enforced suspension of the season, it has been speculated the former Germany international will be sold on this summer.
Ozil has one year left on his contract and it has long been thought the £350,000-a-week attacking midfielder would be allowed to leave on a free upon the expiry of his deal in 2021.
Yet Premier League winner Simpson, who enjoyed spells with Manchester United, Newcastle and Leicester and currently plays for Huddersfield in the Championship, suspects Ozil has played for the final time in an Arsenal shirt.
And he thinks it is unfortunate for blossoming Gunners prospects Saka and Martinelli, whose progression may have been aided were Ozil still playing a key role for the north London club.
Simpson said on Malaysian network Stadium Astro: “Like Martin [Keown] said, it’s a shame because the talent that he’s got, some of us wish we could have.
“It’s a shame, at his age now he could’ve really helped some of those young players coming through, Saka and Martinelli, these players.
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“He could’ve really helped them develop more and maybe sometimes took a bit of pressure off them as well.
“Again, it’s a shame and I don’t think we’ll see him in an Arsenal shirt again if I’m honest. Arteta is a manager making big decisions.
Keown added: “I think this summer now, they may see the player being paid off. It’s about protecting the next generation.
“It’s a real shame, he had a magnificent talent but if you’re not prepared to work hard out of possession for the team, then you don’t get to play in the new Arsenal.
“That’s what Arteta is all about, the work ethic comes first, everything else is a bonus that comes from there.
“Clearly he’s not seeing enough on the training pitch.
“People go into comfort zones, whether they like it or not, they can’t often see it but that must’ve played a part. He’s a millionaire every month after tax.
“My attitude to that is that every player should get the best contract they possibly can and if he’s performing, he deserves that.
“When he doesn’t, it’s very expensive for Arsenal and it maybe sends the wrong message to some of those youngsters. He’s had opportunities, he hasn’t taken them.”
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