Mesut Ozil still has the full backing of Arsenal’s playersdespite the playmaker missing out on the Gunners’ 25-man Premier League squad, according to Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

The 32-year-old has not featured for Arsenal at all since March 7, despite having played in every game between Arteta’s appointment in December and then.

Ex-Real Madrid man Ozil, who did not agree to take a salary cut amid the coronavirus pandemic, believed his performances had been improving, an opinion which is supported by the fact that he created more chances per 90 minutes than any other Arsenal player last term.

Arteta said on Wednesday that Ozil did not do enough to force his way in, despite being given every opportunity to impress.

England international Maitland-Niles, meanwhile, insisted Ozil still has the full support of his team-mates despite the ongoing situation, with the playmaker’s contract up at the end of the season.

“The club’s behind Mesut, we’re a team, that’s always going to be the case until Mesut decides to make his decision and what he wants to do,” Maitland-Niles told a news conference ahead of Thursday’s clash with Rapid Vienna.

“Ultimately, we’re focused on the game for now. Then when we get back to the training ground we can talk about if he wants to go by as a team.

“We’re focused on the game as of now. And when we do finish the game and the three points are secured, then we can focus on going back to the training ground and solving the situation as a team.”

On the decision to omit Ozil, Maitland-Niles added: “That’s something you’re gonna have to ask the club. Us as players, we haven’t really thought about it much.We’ve literally been on the go the whole day. We’ve had our training session and took our flight here, so we haven’t had much time to sit down and process anything as a team.”

Maitland-Nileswas the subject of intense transfer speculation throughout the summer, with Wolves submitting an offer in excess of £20 million ($26m)for the Arsenal academy product, but he says Arteta was the key figure in him deciding to stay.

“There was a lot of speculation going around, but I chose to stay at the club I love,” he said. “I am happy with my decision and I am sure the manager is happy that I stayed as well.

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