Mikel Arteta says his "conscience is calm" after leaving Mesut Ozil out of his Premier League squad and insists the decision was made solely for football reasons. (More Football News)
The former Germany international was not included in the 25-man group for the 2020-21 season when it was submitted on Tuesday after also being left out of the Gunners' Europa League squad earlier in October.
Ozil, who has not played for the club since a match against West Ham on March 7, expressed his disappointment in the decision on Wednesday, posting on social media: "I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me that this has not been reciprocated."
Ozil's influence has waned since providing 19 assists and creating 28 big chances in 35 Premier League outings during the 2015-16 season, dipping to nine, eight, two and two in terms of assists in the following four campaigns.
Last season, however, he created 2.36 chances for every 90 minutes he was on the pitch, comfortably more than the second-placed player on the list, Nicolas Pepe (1.79).
That was not enough to impress Arteta, though, who says Ozil was given every chance to force his way into his thinking following his appointment as Arsenal boss in December 2019.
See you soon, @skrapid!October 21, 2020
"Everybody is free to express his feeling," he told a media conference. "What I can say from my side is that it's just a football decision. My conscience is very calm.
"I was hired at this football club to create and build a project. He has had the opportunities like everyone else. I have to say that I tried to look everybody in the eye and be comfortable with it. I've been very straightforward since I arrived at this club.
"My job is to get the best out of every player. I feel that at the moment I failed because I want the best possible Mesut. At the moment, I haven't been able to do that. This is the reality in football. I have learned that anything can happen.
"Honestly, I take full responsibility. I have to be the one getting the best out of the players. It's my decision. I try to be fair with him and any other players.
"I cannot discuss individual performances of every player. I feel pain when I have to leave players out, believe me. I cannot disclose the technical point of the decisions."
With the transfer window now closed, Ozil will have to wait until January to find a way out of the Emirates Stadium.
Arteta expects the 32-year-old to continue training alongside the first team, though, and says it is his responsibility to keep him motivated over the coming months.
"He's been training with us and he's involved with the squad routines," he added. "We expect him to train and do the best he can. I have to keep him as motivated him as possible in these difficult circumstances and move forward."
Arsenal take on Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday before hosting Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday.