Arsenal manager Unai Emery has said that he does not know or care what the club pay Mesut Ozil, stressing that the German’s bumper £350,000-a-week salary should not guarantee him any kind of preferential treatment.
Emery boldly dropped Ozil from his matchday squad for the midweek Carabao Cup quarter-final against north London rivals Tottenham, and although he revealed that Ozil was in with a chance of starting Arsenal’s match against Burnley this weekend, he made sure to add Ozil’s inflated wage “is not important to me”.
“For me the player’s salary is not important,” Emery said. “I don’t know the player’s salary because, for me, it is the same — I want to give every player the same conversation or the same decision to play or not to play.
“The most important thing for me is the commitment. And when I decide on who plays or not, it is because of a tactical decision. So if you are asking is it different because one player is on a higher salary than the other, then for me it is the same.”
“I do not think about how people think outside [the club]. My focus and my plan is on the squad having the best match. If Mesut is in the starting XI, the same. I trust in him to help us with his quality.”
Despite batting away any questions on Ozil’s future with the club — “I am not thinking about this situation” Emery replied, when asked if he was available to loan or buy — speculation over the German’s future in north London continues to mount.
The Independent understands that Emery would be open to allowing Ozil to leave the club, although his bumper contract means that Arsenal may even have to subsidise a loan if the situation further deteriorates. Arsenal are also investigating the possibility of a swap deal for the Real Madrid midfielder Isco, who has previously been linked with Tottenham.
Emery and Ozil have not seen eye-to-eye since a disagreement at Southampton over the nature of his tactical role. While the German sees himself as a playmaker in an advanced role, Emery wants more pressing and running work from such players, and this has been brought up at animated team meetings.
One training ground source even told The Independent: “Every player has bought into the manager’s ideas so far, except Mesut.”
Emery however insisted that he “trusts” Ozil to fulfil a role in his starting XI, adding that all of Arsenal’s players are highly motivated to get back to winning ways against Burnley at The Emirates on Saturday. After an impressive run of 22-matches undefeated, Arsenal have slumped to successive defeats, first against Southampton and then north London rivals Tottenham.
“The players after two defeats are very concentrated on the match on Saturday,” Emery said.
“The focus of the 18 players is only on the match. One is Mesut. Mesut is okay for Saturday. I trust in him, I trust in our team and our players.
“We are going to play tactically, with the best individual performance and we will continue pushing our players, to give them confidence and to take responsibility. This is our focus for every player, even though I understand that some players outside [the team] give more news. But for me, it’s the same.”
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