The deadline for Europa League’s squad registration has been eclipsed, and the squads for every team are now final. Interestingly, Arsenal still have a week or two before they have to submit their official Premier League squad, which will take some alterations before it complies with the homegrown quotas, but we can save that conversation for a different day.
In the meantime, here is the official list of players registered:
- Bernd Leno, GK
- Runar Runarrson, GK
- Matt Macey, GK
- James Hillson, GK
- Dejan Iliev, GK
- Hector Bellerin, DF
- Gabriel, DF
- Rob Holding, DF
- Cedric, DF
- Shkodran Mustafi, DF
- Calum Chambers, DF
- Pablo Mari, DF
- David Luiz, DF
- Sead Kolasinac, DF
- Kieran Tierney, DF
- Dani Ceballos, MF
- Willian, MF
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles, MF
- Thomas Partey, MF
- Mohamed Elneny, MF
- Granit Xhaka, MF
- Alexander Lacazette, AT
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, AT
- Nicolas Pepe, AT
The obvious 3 missing are Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, and William Saliba, but first let me address a few of the youth players not on the list.
You may have also noticed that Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe, and Reiss Nelson are not on the list, despite featuring in many of Arsenal’s matches. Have no fear. Because they are all under the age of 21 and have been at the club for two year, they don’t need need to be on the list to participate.
Now, the other three. The most worrying sign may be that Saliba has not been selected for these matches when many would have felt the Europa League group stages offered a real opportunity for him to play minutes against clubs that are not quite at the level of the Premier League. It seems as though this foreshadows the potential domestic loan to a Championship club rumors that have been circulating.
When it comes to Sokratis and Ozil, the situation is less clean, and not as promising for them as Saliba who will be in Arsenal’s plans for much of the future. It’s clear that Arteta and Arsenal don’t have either of the pair in his plans. This likely comes as no surprise in Sokratis’ case given he hasn’t been in Arteta’s plan for a while now, but Ozil is certainly a different case.
It’s a touchy subject… for everyone involved. There is some things we know, a lot we don’t know, and it leaves us to fill in the lines how we please — for better or worse. Footballing reasons, matters behind the scenes, driven by the board, Arteta’s choice. These are a few of the reasons thrown out and debated, but the result has ended at being an unregistered player in his final year under contract.
Will this have an effect on January? Will it carry through to Premier League registration due later this month? Very possible! It’s far from the glamorous end to Ozil’s time with Arsenal, and likely his time competing at this level of football. It’s not befitting of someone that has achieved what he has within the game, and someone who played a role in ending Arsenal’s trophy drought and helping win a handful more.
It’s clear that how this separation if going down, it will certainly hurt the legacy he has in north London, and the way many will remember his time. Being unregistered still feels harsh. It’s probably not a real assessment of what he can bring to the side if he were asked to play, but there are also reasons this is the way things have gone.
We will set aside the frustration the club likely has at trying to move him on and being denied, although that is a key factor and the blame shouldn’t lie entirely with him. The club’s past leadership built themselves into an incredibly difficult situation when they agreed to the terms of the contract and then moved on from Wenger, who enjoyed what Ozil could bring, to Emery who’s tactics hardly have room for a player like Ozil, and then onto a manager who is tasked with rebuilding a squad for the future. The volatility and instability of the club’s situation certainly plays a role in Ozil’s situation, much like it negatively effected much of the squad.
Add in the fact that Arsenal’s backline has been so poor in the last year that it demanded Arteta solve the situation through a change in formation and significant defensive protections and the room for Ozil was hampered a bit more.
Now the situation sees Ozil with less than a year remaining on his contract in a side with more than a year left with their rebuild. I find it understandable that Arteta may believe using minutes that Ozil would likely occupy in past years, is better spent on players that are a part of the long term future of Arsenal, even if it costs points in the short term. It’s a bit cliche to throw Wenger quotes into the mix, but he is known to have voiced a similar feeling when it came to blooding youth.
It’s an ugly situation, it’s one we likely will never know the full story of, one that has two very different view points, even if we did the full story, and one that has regrettably navigated down this path.
There could be no larger statement of finality from the club in their quest to put the whole situation to rest from their perspective than not even registering Ozil to play. It’s not entirely over, but many of the day-to-day questions could be put to rest at the end of the month when Ozil’s selection is not an option for any match.
Edu gave an interview with Arsenal today that talked about the transfer window, Arsenal’s plans, as well as this selection scenario.
Edu talked about the difficulty in selling players and moving them along during this time when the pandemic has made things more difficult. He talked about Guendouzi and Torreira’s loans and how they may have had to settle for loans differently this year than they would have in the past. This flowed into the problem at hand today.
By struggling to move along a number of non-homegrown players, Arsenal were left with too many to meet the quotas which meant 2 needed to be cut, and cut delicately.
“The way we did it was to sit down with the players, be open to the players. I spoke to the agents, be open with the agents as well.”
He did add that with the domestic window not closing for another week or 10 days, and Premier League registration not being official until later in October, there is room for alterations within other competitions.
It’s not pretty, it’s not the closure many will want, but the statement is definitive. As far as the squad goes, we will wait to see if any alterations happen in the coming days if people are moved domestically, although I am not sure if that is entirely possible when after this registration date.
Arsenal’s group in the Europa League is one that shouldn’t prove difficult to move on from which should allow Arteta to rotate during the congested schedule.
- Rapid Wien
It’s an important competition and one that offers another avenue back into the Champions League. Could we see another deep run?