Mikel Arteta is completely comfortable with his decision to leave Mesut Ozil out of Arsenal's Premier League and Europa League squads for this season, but admitted feeling a sense of failure at not getting the best from the midfielder.
Ozil, the highest-paid player in Arsenal's history, appears to have played his last game for the club following his omission from the club's 25-man squad for the 2020/21 league campaign.
In response, Ozil - whose £350,000-a-week contract expires at the end of the campaign - has accused Arsenal of a lack of loyalty, but vowed to keep "fighting" for his chance.
Arteta said he was not surprised by Ozil's statement, adding: "Everybody is free to express their feelings."
Upon signing my new contract in 2018, I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me that this has not been reciprocated.
On the decision to exclude Ozil, Arteta said: "It was just a football decision and my conscience is very calm because I have been really fair with him.
"My level of communication with him has been high, we know what to expect with each other.
"He has had the opportunities like everybody else. I'm sad that I had to leave three players out of this list but I tried to look everybody in the eye and be comfortable with it.
"With Mesut, I have this feeling because I have been very straight forward since I arrived at this club.
"It's nothing related to [Ozil's] behaviour. It's my decision."
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Ozil, 32, had featured in each of Arteta's first 10 Premier League matches following the Spaniard's appointment in December last year, but quickly fell out of favour and has not played since March 7.
Arteta feels he got close to seeing the best version of Ozil but says he takes full responsibility for being unable to improve the German's performances.
"My job is to get the best out of every player to contribute to the team performance," Arteta said. "At the moment I feel that I have failed because I want the best possible Mesut for the team.
"In some moments I was able to get close to that but at the moment I haven't been able to do it.
"This is the reality and we have to face it. The best way is to talk things through face-to-face.
"I take full responsibility, I have to be the one getting the best out of the players."
Wenger: Ozil-Arsenal confrontation not just down to sport
Arsene Wenger, who signed Ozil in 2013 for a then-club-record £42m, has defended the player in his new autobiography My Life in Red and White.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the former Arsenal boss said: "Mesut Ozil is an exceptional football player. What happens at the moment between him and the club looks to be more confrontational. It's not based only on sport.
"Why is he not playing at the moment? I don't know. When you're a football player you have to respect the decision of your manager and fight to get the confidence back and fight to get back in the team. He can fight, contrary to what people think. He has enough quality to get back into the team, that's down to him now."
Asked why Ozil is not in Arteta's plans, Wenger said: "I don't know.
"I believe he can play in the Premier League. You practise every day and you make sure if it doesn't work you can go and play somewhere else."
Merson: A big gamble by Arsenal, Ozil's wages are Wenger's fault
Former Arsenal forward and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson:
"The lad has got talent so to keep him out of the squad completely is a big gamble by Arsenal. I don't know if Arsenal are trying to make a stand to say they just want him out, that's the only reason I can think of.
"It's a sad day for Arsenal and a sad day for him. People will say: 'He's on £350,000, what does he care', but it doesn't matter how much money you have got, this lad wants to be playing football.
"I don't think his game has changed, he plays the same way as he's played for many years. The game is evolving and there aren't many number 10s anymore who can just do what they want.
"The game has changed around him and he's not been able to adapt to that. He's been used to playing around greatness and as the Arsenal team deteriorated, his game went and he's the one who was punished.
"Now it's becoming a bit of a chess game. He knows he isn't playing and he'll say: 'You mess me about, I'll mess you about'. You don't want it to end like that.
"I don't think he gets the appreciation he deserves. His wages have affected the Arsenal fans in certain ways, that's upset them. That wasn't his fault, that was Arsene Wenger's fault. What he was doing giving Ozil that kind of money, I don't know, only he can answer that.
"This should have been done with five or six months ago, they should have sat around the table with him and swallowed a pill.
"If he digs his feet in and doesn't play for another season, is that his career over? Maybe. Then he'll be sitting down aged 36 or 37 thinking: 'Why didn't I go and play football?'
"Ozil can go anywhere in the world, if his wages are reasonable. He's earned enough. If he wants to play football, every club in America would have him."
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