Arsenal want to be like “home” for midfielder Mesut Ozil after he quit international football citing “racism and disrespect,” says boss Unai Emery, ESPN learns.
The 29-year-old was criticised after being photographed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May. Ozil, who has Turkish roots, released a lengthy statement on Sunday saying his treatment made him “no longer want to wear the German national team shirt”.
“We are going to help him feel good and show his quality with us,” said Emery.
Ozil said he received threats and hate mail after the photographs with Erdogan were published.
The German Football Association said it “emphatically rejected” Ozil’s accusations of racism.
“Mesut has the respect of every player here,” said Emery, who was appointed as Arsene Wenger’s successor in May. “All of us want to help Mesut feel like it is his home here with us – like a family, and it is a family for every player.”
Ozil joined the Arsenal squad in Singapore for pre-season training, before they face Atletico Madrid in a friendly on Thursday. Asked whether Ozil was mentally prepared for the season, Spaniard Emery said: “I am sure he is going to have a big season with us. He has experience, he has quality and he has a great mentality.” Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis was reportedly applauded by Arsenal players and staff after defending Ozil in a speech at a club barbeque on Tuesday.
New Arsenal manager Unai Emery told reporters on Wednesday he respects Mesut Ozil’s decision to retire from international football due to what the German midfielder said was “racism and disrespect” because of his Turkish roots. Ozil was the target of criticism for his performances during Germany’s disappointing World Cup in Russia, as well as for his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May.
Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan, a teammate also of Turkish descent who posed with Erdogan as well, were jeered by German fans in warm-up games before the tournament began.
Erdogan said on Tuesday the treatment of Ozil was racist and unacceptable.
The 29-year-old’s decision to quit has triggered a bad-tempered public debate in Germany about its relations with its largest immigrant community.
“It’s a personal decision [which] I respect,” Emery told reporters in Singapore a day before Arsenal play Atletico Madrid in the preseason International Champions Cup tournament.
Emery, who in May became the Premier League side’s first new manager in 22 years after Arsene Wenger stepped down, said Ozil felt at home with Arsenal.
“We are like his home. We are like his family … We are going to help him to feel good,” Emery added.
Ozil has not commented about his decision since his arrival in Singapore on Monday with Arsenal.
Arsenal will also play Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday in the tournament.