Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has snubbed Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos from his 25-man squad for the Europa League group stages. The Gunners boss has named the squad he will select from for home and away fixtures against Rapid Vienna, Molde and Dundalk.
UEFA will make the lists public on Thursday but it is claimed by Football.London that neither Ozil or Sokratis will be included, with Arsenal having submitted their squad on Tuesday.
Top earner Ozil only played in the competition twice last term as he found himself on the fringes of the first team under Unai Emery.
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He was restored to the starting line-up once Mikel Arteta took over before Christmas but since the Premier League restarted in June, has been out of contention once again.
Sokratis was tipped for a summer Emirates exit with the 31-year-old out of contract with the north London club in 2021.
Arteta has an abundance of centre-half options after signing Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille this summer and making Pablo Mari’s move permanent.
In addition to the duo, the Spanish coach also has David Luiz, Rob Holding, William Saliba, Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers in the position.
If using a back three, Arsenal can also use Kieran Tierney or Sead Kolasinac as a left-sided centre-back.
And Sokratis’ omission from the Europa League squad suggests he will leave in January or next summer despite having featured regularly in the first few months of Arteta’s tenure.
Arteta faces a similar decision in the Premier League, in which he can only name 17 non-homegrown players as part of a 25-man squad.
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Arsenal currently have 19 on their books and Ozil, who has not made a single match-day squad in any competition this season, appears most likely to miss out.
Sokratis, too, is presumably the other player who will be snubbed given he will not play in the Europa League – a competition of lesser importance for the Gunners.
World Cup winner Ozil has not even made the substitutes’ bench since the Premier League win over Southampton in June.
And given he has not played in either of the club’s two Carabao Cup matches this season, leaving him out of the Europa League and Premier League squads would all but end his Arsenal career.
Ozil’s stock has fallen rapidly since signing his big-money contract extension in January 2018 having produced just six goals and five assists in just 48 Premier League matches since then.
It is a huge drop-off from his previous form having produced 27 goals and 52 assists in his 110 Premier League appearances before his £350,000-a-week deal.
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The No 10 this week offered to pay the wages of sacked Arsenal mascot Gunnersaurus for as long as he stays at the club.
Jerry Quy – the man inside the iconic dinosaur costume – was made redundant by Arsenal this week despite having worked for the club for 27 years.
But Ozil said on Twitter: “I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years.
“As such, I’m offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player… so Jerry can continue his job that he loves so much.#JusticeForGunnersaurus #M10 #YaGunnersYa.”
However, an Arsenal spokesman said: “Gunnersaurus is not extinct and will return to action when fans are allowed back at matches.”
It is unclear whether or not the Londoners will accept former Germany international Ozil’s offer to cover Quy’s salary.
Regarding his own future, Ozil has made it repeatedly clear he will not leave Arsenal before his deal in London runs out next summer although the club would love to get his pay-packet off their wage bill.
Arsenal get their European campaign underway away at Rapid Wien on Thursday 22 October.
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