David Luiz and Mesut Ozil leave Arsenal in a contract mess. They are the perfect illustration of the painful position that club is currently in.
Football is back. And it took just 90 minutes for Arsenal to succumb themselves to another crisis. In fact, it took only 25 minutes from one particular individual to thrust the Gunners right back into the hole that they know so well. And even before kick-off, there were signs that Wednesday night’s triumphant Premier League return would not be so for the north London outfit.
David Luiz is the headline from the match, his cameo resulting his fourth conceded penalty, a critical mistake leading to City’s opening goal, and a sending off, but Mikel Arteta also made a statement in his team selection as he omitted the incongruent Mesut Ozil from the matchday squad entirely.
Afterwards, Arteta explained his decision:
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“It was a tactical reason. I needed players in other positions as well and that’s why I decided to leave him out.”
Luiz, meanwhile, was busy apologising for his own errors, stating that his looming contract uncertainty may have played a role in his poor performance. Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, he said:
“I should have taken a different decision, in the last two months and I didn’t. It’s about my contract, if I stay here or not. I have 14 days left to be here. And that’s it. So today was my fault.”
His agent, Kia Joorabchian, then discussed Luiz’s contract situation on talkSPORT on Thursday morning. He revealed that discussions were delayed due to the coronavirus and may have been hanging over Luiz against City:
“The contract situation has dragged on not because of any reason, not because of the will of either Arsenal or David to finalise, but really because of the situation that occurred with this pandemic. Now it becomes a moment where you’ve got 14 days left [until the deadline] and you’re at a critical point of your career, where you’d probably three or four years left at the very top level, so that’s obviously at the back of your mind.”
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Luiz and Ozil now leave Arsenal in a difficult position this summer. Ozil’s £350,000-per-week noose is tightening around the club’s neck, while Luiz may have played his last game for the club now that he is suspended until July, when his current deal expires.
Quite how either of these situations can be solved is difficult to envisage. Arsenal need Luiz until the end of the season, and Arteta wants to keep him. Ozil, on the other hand, is a stain that has been shunted by a third successive manager and cannot be removed. It leaves the club in an impossible position entirely of their own making.
Their uncertain futures are the perfect and painful illustration of Arsenal’s ineptitude in managing their squad in recent years. This is the situation that Arteta has inherited and there is no easy solution.