Mesut Ozil’s lengthy Arsenal exile is finally set to come to an end after the 32-year-old midfielder agreed a deal “in principle” to terminate his contract, according to reports.
Ozil has not featured for the Gunners since football resumed after the initial Covid-19 lockdown, being sidelined for the entirety of this season after being left out of Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads, despite being the club’s highest earner on a contract worth a reported £350,000 ($475,000) a week.
Ozil’s current deal is up in the summer, but according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, the player and club have agreed a deal in principle to terminate it before then.
German World Cup winner Ozil is expected to sign for Turkish club Fenerbahce early next week.
Ozil joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in a deal worth around £42.5 million, and has helped the club to a hat-trick of FA Cup titles in that period, initially continuing his form as one of world football’s great playmakers.
However, his star has fallen dramatically since the departure of long-time manager Arsene Wenger from the Emirates in 2018.
Wenger’s replacement Unai Emery was unconvinced by Ozil’s presence in the team, and while current Gunners boss Mikel Arteta handed him a run of games on taking over, the Spaniard has since also sidelined the star.
There have been rumors of rifts between Ozil and those higher up the hierarchy at Arsenal, after the player refused to take a pay cut when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Instead, Ozil has staged a high-profile social media campaign of support for charities and also offered to pay the wages of the man behind the Arsenal mascot Gunnersaurus, who was set to lose his job due to the pandemic.
Ozil is of Turkish descent, and enjoys a close relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He will reportedly sign for Istanbul giants Fenerbahce on Monday.
Mesut Özil is expected to sign his contract as new Fenerbahçe player on Monday. Arsenal are now planning to sell also Papastathopoulos in the coming days, then they’ll work on new signings. Emi Buendia: contacts with his agent but no official bid from #AFC, as of today. ⚪️🔴
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 16, 2021
Ozil sensationally retired from the German national team in the wake of the World Cup debacle in Russia in 2018, claiming he was being made a scapegoat for the team’s failings because of his Turkish heritage, and that he was the victim of racism from fans and the media.