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Mesut Ozil: Arsenal leave midfielder out of Europa League squad

The 31-year-old has not played for the club since March; Defenders Sokratis and William Saliba also left out of squad

Mesut Ozil during a training session at London Colney on September 22, 2020
Image: Mesut Ozil has yet to feature for Arsenal this season

Mesut Ozil has been left out of Arsenal's Europa League squad for the 20/21 campaign.

The 31-year-old has not played for the Gunners since March and his future at the club has been in doubt for some time, with boss Mikel Arteta recently saying it has been "very difficult" for Ozil to break back into the side.

Ozil, the highest paid player in Arsenal's history, played in every Premier League game under Arteta until the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic - and has not featured since.

He misses out on the squad alongside centre-backs Sokratis, who was expected to leave the club in the summer window, and William Saliba, who has yet to make an appearance in the Premier League since joining from Saint Etienne.

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Asked recently why the World Cup-winner had fallen out of favour, Arteta replied: "The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving.

"This is where we are at the moment. We want to evolve more and play better and compete better.

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"We need to keep maintaining that. I'm really happy with the performance here, how difficult they're making things for the coaching staff to select the squad."

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On Tuesday, Ozil offered to pay the full wages of Jerry Quy - the man inside Arsenal's Gunnersaurus mascot costume - to save his job.

Quy has portrayed Gunnersaurus for the past 27 years, but was made redundant as part of the job-cutting scheme implemented by Arsenal in the summer.

Arsenal's Europa League campaign will begin when they face Group B rivals Rapid Vienna in Austria on October 22 before matches against Dundalk and Molde.

Arsenal's Europa League squad in full

Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno, Runar Runarsson, Matt Macey, James Hillson, Dejan Iliev

Defenders: Hector Bellerin, Gabriel, Rob Holding, Cedric Soares, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, David Luiz, Sead Kolasinac, Kieran Tierney

Midfielders: Dani Ceballos, Willian, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka

Forwards: Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe

Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe are all included as homegrown players.

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After joining Mallorca on loan from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2013, a 20-year-old Thomas Partey would always introduce himself with a smile and the same phrase.

"I'm Thomas Partey," he would say, "not fiesta!"

The play on words - fiesta means party in Spanish - immediately endeared him to his new colleagues. "Whenever our paths crossed in the years after that, he would always say that same thing and laugh," José Luis Oltra, Mallorca's manager at the time, chuckles down the phone. But it was Partey's footballing ability that made the most lasting impression.

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