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Footballer Mesut Ozil leaves Arsenal for Turkey’s Fenerbahce

ISTANBUL: Mesut Ozil has confirmed leaving Arsenal for Turkish side Fenerbahce, saying he was “very excited” to join a team he always supported and that he was in good physical condition despite missing nearly a year of football.

The German World Cup winner has been frozen out of the London club for months and was left out of its English Premier League and Europa League squads at the start of the season. The 32-year-old, who is of Turkish origin, has long been linked with a move to Fenerbahce, one of Istanbul’s three big clubs.

“I am a Fenerbahce fan. That is why I am very happy to be coming to Turkey with Fenerbahce,” Ozil said, while speaking to Turkish broadcaster before arriving in the Turkish city. “I’m very excited. God gave me the chance to wear this jersey as a Fenerbahce fan. God willing, I will carry it with honour and do everything I can for the team,” he added.

Ozil has not played for Arsenal since March 2020 and his reported deal on a weekly salary of £350,000 was set to expire at the end of the current season.

“Of course, I’m missing a few matches. I haven’t played in a match in a while, but I am physically fit, I have no issues,” he said, adding he had been training with the first team at Arsenal during his time off the pitch.

In a Twitter post, Ozil tweeted “67” with a heart emoji, in an apparent reference to the first two digits of the postal code of Zonguldak in Turkey, where his family hails from.

Ozil is expected to sign a three and a half year deal with Fenerbahce, which are currently second in the league behind Besiktas. Signed in 2013 for a then-club record fee of about 42 million pounds ($57 million) from Spanish giant Real Madrid, Ozil played an important role under Arsene Wenger in ending Arsenal’s trophy drought, winning the FA Cup in his first season.

Ozil found himself marginalised under Wenger’s replacement Unai Emery and again by current manager Mikel Arteta, who said the player’s omission from the squad was for “football reasons”.

During his time in Arsenal, Ozil has scored 44 goals in 254 matches in all competitions. He was a key part of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning side but ended his international career after what he labelled “racist” attacks following the first-round exit at the 2018 tournament.