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Arsenal close in on Odegaard after exit of 'Gunner for life' Ozil

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Mesut Ozil. Photo: Reuters

Mesut Ozil. Photo: Reuters

Mesut Ozil. Photo: Reuters

Mesut Ozil said he would be a "Gunner for life" after completing his move to Fenerbahce to end an eventful seven-and-a-half years at Arsenal.

Ozil flew to Turkey to finalise his move last week but the process was complicated by coronavirus restrictions and the final details of the cancellation of his Arsenal contract.

Edu, Arsenal's technical director, thanked Ozil and his representatives for their "professionalism" during the negotiations over his long-awaited departure.

Ozil's exit will help Arsenal ease the misery of losing their grip on the FA Cup following Saturday's 1-0 defeat by Southampton, with his £350,000-a-week salary set to free up space elsewhere in the squad.

Club officials are closing in on the loan signing of Martin Odegaard, who would help to fill the creative void left by Ozil.

Odegaard, a former teenage prodigy who is out of favour at Real Madrid, is set to join on loan until the end of the season if the details can be agreed, as expected. The 22-year-old can play in an attacking midfield position or on the wing.

In a letter posted on his social media, Ozil said Arsenal's "principles of class, respect and dignity must never be forgotten" as he bid farewell to the club's supporters, many of whom remained loyal since his arrival in 2013.

"Much has been written about my time at Arsenal, especially in recent months," Ozil said. "Arsenal is a club of class and prestige.

"Players, staff and management always come and go - but the club's values and fans will remain forever. The principles of class, respect and dignity must never be forgotten. It is the responsibility of every single person from the club to make sure they carry out their job in the name of these values.

"The past few months have not been the easiest. Like every player, I want to play every minute of football for my team. In life, however, things do not always play out how we expect or want them to.

"But it is important to look for the positives in life and not the negatives, which is why I try to live with no regrets and holding no grudges. I will be a Gunner for life - no doubt about that."

Ozil made 254 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals and registering 71 assists. He helped the club win the FA Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2017 and was a key part of the team who reached the Europa League final in 2019.

His huge contract has been a drain on resources, though, as his contributions to the team have declined. As part of his departure, he will not receive all the wages he would have earned if he had seen out his contract.

"Mesut's achievements at Arsenal are undisputed," manager Mikel Arteta said. "It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, to coach him. His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt.

"Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins. These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best."

Edu added: "I know everyone will join me in wishing Mesut and his family the best of health, success and happiness in the next chapter of his career."

© Telegraph Media Group Limited, 2021

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