MESUT OZIL is locked into an Arsenal stand-off with Unai Emery and neither man is prepared to back down.
Emery has made it clear that Ozil is not part of his plans and that he wants the former German international to leave at the end of the season.
But Ozil, 30, has no intention of being forced out of the club and is ready to dig his heels in for another two years if necessary.
French champions Paris Saint-Germain tried to sign him on loan last month to fill in for their injured Brazilian superstar Neymar for the rest of the season.
But while Arsenal were open to PSG’s approach, Ozil made it clear that he has no intention of going anywhere on loan.
He is happy living in London and is not prepared to leave at the first offer just to help Arsenal get him off the payroll.
He will consider a move to a major European club in the summer but only if the financial terms are right and has no interested in going to China.
And now the club’s £350,000-a-week highest earner believes he is starting to win the fans’ backing in his escalating dispute with the manager.
Ozil has started just one of Arsenal’s last ten games and didn’t even make the squad for Thursday’s humiliating Europa League defeat by BATE Borisov.
Emery is making no attempt to hide his frustration with a player who has regularly declared himself unavailable due to various viruses, back spasms and niggles with his knee.
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Ozil has now missed more than 100 games during his six seasons at Arsenal without ever suffering a serious injury.
But even when he is fit and in full training, he is not selected for the games which really matter against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.
The manager now refuses to even discuss Ozil’s situation and is becoming increasingly irritated by so much focus being given to someone who is not even playing.
Yet Ozil is determined to do everything by the book and has taken to posting regular messages on social media declaring his commitment and support for the team.
Even though he was 1,400 miles away from Thursday’s 1-0 defeat in Borisov, Ozil tweeted: “Not the result we wanted, but we can still do it in the second leg and reach the next round.
“Let’s bounce back at the Emirates especially for our fans.”
It was a message which drew more than 1,500 supportive replies from supporters and now the pressure is on Emery to recall his midfield star for Thursday’s crucial return leg.
Arsenal Invincible Martin Keown insists that something has to give at his former club and says: “The situation is becoming embarrassing.
“Is he injured? Is he ill? We don’t really know. To miss 100 matches is questionable but only the player really knows if he’s really injured or not.
“A player has to be available to give consistency and Ozil hasn’t been able to give either of those things to the team.”
The dilemma for Arsenal is that none of the handful of clubs who can afford to match Ozil’s £18million-a-year contract want to buy him.
Yet Arsenal are not prepared to allow him to leave for nothing after fighting so hard to get him to sign a new contract last January.
And it is clear that they now bitterly regret following the advice of Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis in acceding to Ozil’s demands.