MESUT OZIL is set to leave Arsenal for free next summer with the club yet to offer him a new deal amid the financial crisis, reports have claimed.
ESPN say that the 2014 World Cup winner was told last summer he could leave the club due to a falling out with ex-boss Unai Emery.
But Ozil, 31, rediscovered his form under Mikel Arteta and started all 10 Premier League games he was in charge.
Success on the pitch has not led to renewed faith off it, however, and club chiefs have not opened talks over a contract extension as they mull over what financial state the club will be in in the future.
That could lead to Ozil, who has refused a 12.5 per cent pay cut on his £350,000-a-week wages, leaving at the end of this season – or for nothing when his contract expires in June 2021.
Arsenal previously gave Aaron Ramsey to Juventus for nothing and lost Jack Wilshere for free.
ESPN say that Ozil’s massive wage has been a source of friction at the club.
The next best earner, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, pockets £200,000 a week.
Ozil has said he wants to stay at Arsenal, but given he turns 32 in October, his long-term future at the club remains in doubt.
That could strengthen Arsenal’s desire to sell him, but his wage remains a huge obstacle.
Inter, AC Milan and Fenerbahce were all said to have been interested in a move for the playmaker but could not afford his salary.
Former Arsenal star Andrey Arshavin has called for Ozil’s exit.
He said the ex-Real Madrid man slows the Gunners down too much and questioned whether he belongs in the side.
ESPN say Ozil’s refusal to take a pay cut has no impact on Arsenal’s plans over his future.
He remains open to taking one – but wants assurances over where the money is spent and what the impact will be on future transfers.
But in a roundabout way, Arsenal’s push for a wage cut shows how fearful they are of their financial situation once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Removing Ozil from the wage bill would be a big relief.