Arsenal fans have launched a petition to have misfit midfielder Mesut Ozil reinstated to their starting XI.

The German was left out of the Gunners’ Europa League squad last week, making him ineligible in the competition until January. He is expected to suffer the same fate when the club’s Premier League squad is confirmed next week.

Despite reportedly being Arsenal’s highest-paid player, he hasn’t featured for Mikel Arteta’s side since before lock-down.

Ozil at Arsenal

Ozil joined Arsenal for a record £42m fee in 2013. Since then he has played 254 games, scored 44 goals and assisted 77, and won four FA Cups.

After being a staple under Arsene Wenger, he fell out of favour under Unai Emery because of his perceived lack of work rate.

It looked like bridges had been rebuilt after he started each of Mikel Arteta’s opening 11 games in charge last season.

However, when the covid-19 pandemic brought football to a halt the Arsenal players asked to take a 12.5% wage cut. Ozil was one of three players who is said to have refused, despite earning a reported £350,000 per week.

Since then he has been exiled from Mikel Arteta’s matchday squads, although the Spaniard insists this is for tactical reasons alone.

The petition

Despite not playing much at the minute, Ozil still has a huge number of fans on social media. He is the Premier League’s third most followed player with an astonishing 77.9 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Many of those fans have now come to his defence by launching a petition to demand the German is reinstated in Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads.

In a lengthy accompanying letter, they highlight Ozil’s contribution to the club during the past seven years and speculate the World Cup winner is being left out of the Gunners’ side because of “non-footballing issues”.

Despite being launched just three days ago, the petition already had more than 3,000 signatures at the time of writing. More are expected in the coming days.

Some Arsenal fans react to petition

The petition has certainly divided opinion among fans on social media.

Some think Ozil should be brought back into the fold, with #FreeOzil now doing the rounds on Twitter.

However, others seem to view the petition as a sign of the “toxic” fan culture around Arsenal in recent years.

One user also highlighted the German has managed only four league assists in the past two seasons.

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