Fenerbahce have officially announced the signing of Mesut Ozil as a free agent after a breakthrough in negotiations saw the ostracised playmaker agree a deal to terminate his contract with Arsenal last weekend.
The confirmation finally brings a close to Ozil’s seven-and-a-half year spell in north London, which ended under tortuous exile, having not made an appearance for the club since March 2020.
Ozil had initially been adamant that he would see out the end of his £350,000 a week contract, but was left out of Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads by Mikel Arteta and it was subsequently made clear that he would not be offered a route back into the first team.
READ MORE: The complicated legacy of Mesut Ozil
The 32-year-old visited Arsenal’s London Colney training ground last Sunday to say final farewells to his teammates before flying to Istanbul that evening to begin his medicals.
“I’d like to thank the club for this amazing journey over the past seven-and-a-half years," Ozil said. "The support I have felt from the team and fans during my time here has been truly incredible and something I will always be grateful for. Together we won trophies for the first time in years and created memories that will last a lifetime. The Arsenal fans will forever remain in my heart.
"I’d like to thank Edu Gaspar for helping bring about a professional and dignified solution in the past few days, and I wish everyone at the club the best in their attempt to continue to bring Arsenal back to the top, where we belong.”
MLS side DC United had been interested in signing Ozil in the summer, but he ultimately decided to forgo a portion of his remaining £7m at Arsenal in order to join Fenerbahce. The son of Turkish immigrants, he has supported the club since childhood and had repeatedly stated his desire to move to Istanbul before the end of his career.
The departure comes as a relief to Arsenal, too, with Ozil’s contract - one of the final major decisions of Arsene Wenger’s reign - the largest in the club’s history and a huge financial burden.
Arteta added: “Mesut’s achievements at Arsenal are undisputed. It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, coach him. His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt. Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins. These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce.”
Ozil was signed for £42.5m from Real Madrid in 2013 and arrived as a genuine superstar, helping the club to end their trophy drought in his first season before winning the World Cup with Germany later that summer.
The club successfully retained the FA Cup the following season before Ozil reached the peak of his powers in north London, registering 19 assists in the 2015/16 Premier League season.
Ozil won a third FA Cup the following year and eventually agreed to the record-breaking contract extension in 2018, with Arsenal desperate not to lose both their star players as it became clear Alexis Sanchez would depart.
His decline since then, though, has been alarming and often dramatic, leaving behind a contentious legacy at the club and eroding one of its last links to the Wenger era.
In all, Ozil made 254 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals and contributing 77 assists.