Mesut Ozil has thanked Arsenal for an “amazing journey” after his departure to Fenerbahce was confirmed, saying he goes with no grudges despite not playing for nearly a year.
Ozil said goodbye to his Arsenal team-mates a week ago and his move to Turkey had now been wrapped up, ending his seven-and-a-half-year stay at the Emirates.
“I’d like to thank the club for this amazing journey over the past seven-and-a-half years,” said Ozil, who has not played for the Gunners since March, with his £350,000-a-week deal set to expire at the end of the current season.
On his club’s official website he added: “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.”
Writing on Instagram, Ozil was more emotional, saying: “I will always be grateful for the trust placed in me by Arsene Wenger in September 2013. I’ve grown up as an adult in North London, a place I’ll always call home. I’ll never forget that.
“It’s difficult for me to put into words the love I feel for this club and the fans. How could I possibly describe eight years of gratitude in a single letter? I will be a Gunner for life – no doubt about that.”
Having started the first 10 games under Mikel Arteta following his appointment in December 2019, Ozil has not featured since a 1-0 win over West Ham before the coronavirus pandemic saw football grind to a halt.
He was omitted from Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads, with Arteta and technical director Edu insisting the decision was down to footballing reasons.
“As I said, the past few months haven’t been the easiest,” Ozil added. “Like every player, I want to play every minute of football for my team. In life, however, things don’t always play out how we want or expect them to.
“But it is important to look for the positives in life and not negatives, which is why I try to live life with no regrets and holding no grudges. Being at Arsenal was more than just football, it was about community.”
Ozil was criticised in some quarters when he refused to take a pay cut during the summer, with no football being played and Arsenal looking to balance the books.
But boss Arteta said he would be remembered for playing in three of the four FA Cup finals Arsenal won during his time at the club.
“Mesut’s achievements at Arsenal are undisputed,” said Arteta. “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.”
Mesut Ozil has left Arsenal to join Turkish Super Lig side Fenerbahce in a permanent deal.
Here, we take a look at some of Ozil’s most memorable moments during his time at the Emirates Stadium.
Ozil’s arrival at Arsenal on September 2, 2013 was seen as a watershed moment by those in power at the club. Senior figures, including manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, had been keen to land a big-name player after the financial shackles of moving to the Emirates Stadium had been released.
Gazidis had earlier said Arsenal had “financial firepower” to compete with the best and were linked with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Gonzalo Higuain and had seen a bid for Luis Suarez rejected by Liverpool.
So bringing in Ozil, one of the top talents in Europe at the time, was heralded as a sea-change in terms of Arsenal’s ability to attract the best.
Ozil was named Arsenal’s player of the season for the 2015/16 campaign as Wenger’s side finished second in the Premier League – behind shock champions Leicester.
The playmaker laid on 19 assists in the league, with only Thierry Henry (2002/03) and Kevin De Bruyne (2019/20) bettering that figure in the history of the Premier League.
Fine displays in wins over Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Manchester City helped him clinch the club’s award by some distance.
The Champions League minnows of Ludogorets must have already been sick of the sight of Ozil long before he scored a memorable goal against the Bulgarians in November 2016.
Ozil had already scored his first Arsenal hat-trick in the clash in north London, a game which the hosts won 6-0. But in Sofia the Gunners were stunned to find themselves two behind early on, only to level through Granit Xhaka and Olivier Giroud.
Then Ozil provided a moment of magic in the closing stages, running onto a fine Mohamed Elneny pass before chipping the goalkeeper, sending two defenders to the ground and slotting home the winning goal – to this day he names the strike as the best of his career.
Ozil’s technical ability has always been lauded and nothing proves his ball skills more than the invention of his own type of finish.
The ‘chopshot’ was something he first trialled at Real Madrid but it did work its way into his game at Arsenal. Instead of looking to chip an onrushing goalkeeper, Ozil would kick down on the top of the ball, creating the elevation to loft it over the unsuspecting stopper.
He most famously pulled it off in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool in 2017 and sent the internet crazy with memes and GIFs of the goal.
By the time Leicester travelled to the Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2018 Ozil’s career had hit a roadblock. A number of poor or peripheral performances had seen the Arsenal fanbase split over whether Ozil still warranted a place in a side now overseen by head coach Unai Emery.
But there were still flickers of the Ozil of old as he showed in taking apart the Foxes in a 3-1 win, scoring the equaliser with a first-time finish, laying on the second and playing a big part in a stunning team goal to add the third.
It was arguably the last man of the match performance of Ozil’s Arsenal career and it all came with him wearing the captain’s armband.