Mesut Ozil confirmed on Sunday that he was leaving Arsenal for Turkish team Fenerbahce after being frozen out for months at the Gunners.
“I’m very happy, very excited. God has given me the chance to wear the Fenerbahce shirt. I will wear it with pride and give everything for the team,” Ozil said in an interview with Turkish television channel NTV.
Former Germany forward Ozil said that he would be travelling to Istanbul with his family on Sunday evening, bringing to an end a seven-and-a-half year relationship with Arsenal that turned sour under current coach Mikel Arteta.
The 32-year-old has not played for the Premier League team since March 2020 and his reported deal on a weekly salary of £350,000 ($475,000) was set to expire at the end of the current season.
However, he claimed in Sunday’s interview that he is “in good physical condition” despite his lengthy period on the sidelines.
Sports daily Fanatik reports that Ozil will sign a three-and-a-half year deal with Fenerbahce worth five million euros a season.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin responding to an earlier post on social media from Ozil of two hearts in Fenerbahce’s colours tweeted: “Safe trip home”.
Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, was heavily criticised in Germany for posing for a photograph with Erdogan in 2018. Erdogan was also the best man at the player’s wedding in Turkey.
Ozil was a key part of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning side but after what he labelled “racist” attacks following the holders’ first-round exit at the 2018 tournament, he ended his international career.
Fenerbahce, one of Istanbul’s three big clubs, are currently second in the league behind Besiktas.
After starting the first 10 games of Mikel Arteta’s reign as Arsenal boss, Ozil has not featured since a 1-0 win over West Ham before the coronavirus pandemic saw football grind to a halt last year.
He was omitted from Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads, with Arteta and technical director Edu insisting the decision to do so was down to footballing reasons.
In December 2019, Arsenal also distanced themselves from comments Ozil made on social media criticising China’s treatment of the Uighur population.
The early years of Ozil’s career at the Emirates after a £42.5 million move from Real Madrid in 2013 were a success.
He played a major role in winning three FA Cups in four years, but became a peripheral figure after Arsene Wenger departed as manager in 2018, just five months after Ozil had signed his bumper three-year deal.