Mesut Ozil has denied that Arsenal’s players have stopped playing for Arsene Wenger and urged his team-mates to ignore the uncertainty engulfing the club and focus on football until the end of the season.
A run of seven defeats in 12 matches has seen Arsenal exit the Champions League and drop to sixth in the Premier League but Ozil, who is among those approaching the final year of his contract, has stressed that the season can still feasibly finish on a high.
“At this stage I’m not important, what’s important is the club,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot to aim for this season, to try and finish in the top four and the FA Cup. It would be wrong to think about anything other than the football and then we can talk again at the end of the season.”
Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat on Monday night against Crystal Palace prompted fans and pundits to question the commitment of the squad, with Jamie Carragher calling the players “cowards” and Ian Wright claiming that the dressing room had been lost.
“There is no player, especially not me, who will go out and give 90 per cent and not give everything or think 'we are going to lose today. What is the point? I will hold myself back’,” said Ozil.
“That doesn't happen at all. I always give 100 per cent, I always fight for everything. As players we cannot decide who manages the club. I’ve always said he [Wenger] was the most important reason in me coming here. He has been here for 20 years and deserves respect.”
Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are understood to have been offered around £250,000 a week to stay and, although Wenger is publicly optimistic about keeping his two star players, nothing is expected to be resolved now until the end of the season.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris St Germain are all interested in Sanchez but the options open to Ozil are far less obvious.
Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs are also all out of contract next year while a decision on Wenger’s contract is now unlikely before the end of the season.
Ozil’s form his dipped significantly since Christmas but he has suggested that he is a victim of his languid body language.
“I don't really pay too much attention to what the experts say," Ozil told Sky Sports. “It comes down to maybe not seeing all of my statistics, maybe my style sometimes does make it look like I'm not 100 per cent there, giving my absolute everything. But that is my body language, that is the way I have always been. That is the way I am and I won't change that.”