Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil has been defended by former Gunner Paul Merson after he was left out of their 25-man Premier League squad despite being the club’s top earner.

The German was the surprise omission from Mikel Arteta, though he had not featured so far this season.

Ozil will not step onto the pitch for the Gunners until February at the earliest, but he will continue to rake in a whopping £350,000-a-week.

However, former Arsenal favourite Merson insists that it is a “big gamble” not to include a player of Ozil’s quality, especially given his wages.

"He’s an absolute talent. So, to keep him out of the squad, completely out of the squad, it's a big gamble by Arsenal," Merson told Sky Sports.

The midfielder is set to be sent into exile and left out of Mikel Arteta's Premier League side
Mesut Ozil was left out of Mikel Arteta's Premier League side

"He’s on massive wages, no doubting that. He gets fortunes. I'm surprised, it shocked me. When I was told that he’d been left out of the squad I was shocked if I'm being honest, because I am one of his biggest fans.

"I think when he's on song, he can play and you've got to remember just before lockdown, he was playing," the former Arsenal star added.

Mesut Ozil is set to leave Arsenal when his contract expires next summer
Mesut Ozil is set to leave Arsenal when his contract expires next summer

"He was playing in Arteta’s team so for him to come back and then not be in the team and not even get a squad place, yeah I'm quite surprised."

Merson also insisted that Ozil is still desperate to get on the pitch, and called it a “sad day” for the club.

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"It’s a shame,” he went on. “It’s a sad day for Arsenal. It’s a sad day for him if I’m being honest.

"People go, ‘Oh yeah but he's on 350 grand, what does he care?’ You want to play football. You know when you get to my age and you're not playing football anymore. It soon goes."