When Mesut Ozil's name was missing from the teamsheet at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night, it came as little surprise. No Ozil? That's become the norm at Arsenal.
The 31-year-old has made the squad just four times from 13 matches this season and has a grand total of 142 minutes of game time under his belt.
There have been plenty of rumours about his future before, and now they will start again. Against Vitoria Guimaraes some fans chanted his name, and at least one held a sign asking for him to return.
Afterwards, boss Unai Emery refused to discuss Ozil.
B/R sources close to the player are perplexed by the way he has been left in the cold by Emery. Some are convinced the club are trying to frustrate him, perhaps in hope he will hand in a transfer request.
But it's a tricky situation for Ozil, and he will not ask to leave any time soon—there is not enough for him to gain.
He still enjoys being at Arsenal, and his options will be limited if he tries to move on. He earns £350,000 per week and has only figured in two matches all season.
So, instead he plans to bide his time a little more and judge whether Emery will even make it through to a third season in charge.
For the first time, though, Ozil is having to seriously think about where he will go after Arsenal. Those close to the player believe it is most likely he will move across the Atlantic to sign with an MLS team.
Yet so much could happen before then—and that's why the former Germany international is not about to throw a tantrum in public over his frustrating situation.
When Ozil joined Arsenal in 2013, it was widely acknowledged they had signed one of the most creative footballers in the world. He has had good spells for the Gunners, but they have been rare in recent times.
He has a total of 43 goals and 74 assists from his time in north London—but in the past 12 months he has recorded just two goals and two assists from his 25 outings.
Arsenal boss Emery and Ozil were captured on video having a lengthy discussion at training ahead of Thursday's Europa League match against Vitoria. Their awkward conversation led to speculation about what was going on—and Ozil has since followed it up with a tweet that has fanned the flames.
On Wednesday evening he tweeted a picture of himself with the caption "You make me laugh." Many fans are now reading into it as a dig at Emery.
Either way, the pair are struggling to find common ground, and now Ozil has to figure out what to do about the situation.
A source told B/R: "It is not as simple as just walking away because that is not what he wants to do. There has to be a chance that Emery is gone before he is."
Ozil recently told The Athletic's David Ornstein that he will not leave until his contract ends in 2021, but sources have since explained to B/R that he will be forced into a change of mindset in the new year if Emery is still at the helm and Ozil is not getting a game.
B/R understands that if he does decide to quit Arsenal early, America is the No. 1 destination he will consider.
DC United, who Wayne Rooney played for until recently, and Inter Miami, owned by David Beckham, are both keen on the prospect of signing Ozil, and discussions are expected to take place at the end of this year about how a move could open up.
Until then, we must wait to see whether Emery brings Ozil in from the cold. Don't bet on it.
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