Arsenal manager Unai Emery says the club want to help Mesut Ozil through a difficult period in his career, after the midfielder announced his retirement from the German national team and cited racism as one of the many reasons for his decision.
“(His retirement) is a personal decision from Mesut and I respect it. He thinks what is best for him, he explained his decision and here we need to help him. All of us want to help Mesut feel like it is his home here with us, like a family and it is a family for every player. He has the respect of every player here,” said Emery in a recent press conference.
Ozil released a 2,320-word statement announcing his retirement and asking: “Does my Turkish heritage make me a more worthy target (to the German media)?” He also said his Muslim beliefs may be a factor in his negative treatment from many outlets and called out individuals for racism.
After the media storm that arose after Ozil was pictured with the Turkish president during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, few could blame him for retiring from international football. Media scrutiny has long followed the playmaker, but he may be under the spotlight for quite some time now.
It’s been a bad year for the 29-year-old for club and country. He didn’t have his best season at Arsenal, with the Gunners finishing sixth in the Premier League, and he underperformed at the World Cup with Germany – Joachim Loew’s men were eliminated in the group stages as defending champions.
It won’t be easy for Ozil to put such disappointment behind him and move on so quickly this season, but Emery believes the midfield is stronger than he’s ever given credit for. He said: “(Ozil) has experience, he has quality and he has a great mentality and we are going to help him feel good and to show his quality with us. I am sure he is going to have a big season with us.”
The former Real Madrid playmaker is back training with Arsenal and will hope to put the national team completely behind him. The Gunners have a new manager and had strengthened well in the transfer market, so there’s plenty to be excited about domestically. It’s vital that Arsenal protect their play from scrutiny he receives this season, as Ozil’s season could yet be destroyed by the media before it even begins.