Arsenal's ostracised Ozil 'in talks with Fenerbahce'
The Arsenal player is in negotiations to join Turkey’s Fenerbahçe team, the DHA agency reported, noting he is expected to sign a three-year contract.
The report comes as Ozil continues to be excluded from Arsenal's 25-man English Premier League squad for the 2020/21 season.
In October, Ozil issued an emotional statement saying he is "deeply disappointed" by the move that emerged after he took a strong and public stance against human rights violations that were not backed by Arsenal.
He has also come under fire for having Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as best man at his wedding.
"This is a difficult message to write to Arsenal fans that I've played for over the past few years. I'm really deeply disappointed by the fact that I have not been registered for the Premier League season for the time being," Ozil said.
The 32-year-old, who reportedly earns £350,000 ($470,000) per week at the Emirates Stadium, is the highest-paid player in Arsenal's history and has refused to take a pay cut prior to being excluded from the Premier League squad.
"Upon signing my new contract in 2018, I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me that this has not been reciprocated. As I have just found out, loyalty is hard to come by nowadays," he continued.
While there is no direct connection between his political statements and being axed from the league, some fans have speculated that Ozil's outspoken comments on Uighur rights violations may have contributed to the tensions between the football player and the club, eventually leading to his dismissal.
Last year, Ozil – a Turkish-origin German and practising Muslim – condemned China's crackdown on Uighur Muslims in a Turkish-language post on Twitter.
"I can promise you that this hard decision won't change anything in my mindset – I will continue to train as best as I can and wherever possible use my voice against inhumanity and for justice," Ozil wrote in his heartfelt statement.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports that while he is unaware of internal day-to-day affairs of the club, he is convinced there is more to the dismissal than Ozil's gameplay.
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"Mesut Ozil is an exceptional football player. What's happening at the moment between him and the club looks to be more confrontational, it's not [only] based on sport, I'm convinced," Wenger was quoted as saying.
"This guy has won things. He's a world champion, he's an exceptional football player."
Ozil has not played for the club since 7 March, despite having been one of the team's star players for many years.
This is something that has struck a sad note in the player, who has allegedly turned down offers from global names such as Manchester United to stay at the North London club.
"What else can I say? London still feels like home, I still have many good friends in this team, and I still feel a strong connection with the fans of this club. No matter what, I will keep fighting for my chance and not let my 8th season at Arsenal end like this," the footballer concluded in his statement.
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