Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insists unhappy Mesut Ozil will not be selected just because he has a huge salary.
Ozil is reportedly the highest-paid player in Arsenal history on a weekly salary of £350 000 ($433 000).
But the German World Cup winner has rarely justified that contract and is yet to play a minute of football for the Gunners since the season resumed after the coronavirus hiatus.
Arteta stressed a “tactical decision” had kept Ozil out until the FA Cup win at Sheffield United, when it was reported the 31-year-old was injured.
The former Real Madrid star, who arrived at Arsenal in 2013, will be assessed ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League game against Norwich following back soreness.
But, regardless of his fitness, Arteta has stressed he only ever picks his team on footballing merit.
Asked if Ozil’s wages had any impact when it comes to team selection, Arteta replied: “Never.
“That (Ozil’s contract) is an agreement that the player and club were happy to do, to move ahead and it is never something that I question.
“I think players are paid whatever they deserve because there are two parties here and that should never be something I have to judge.”
Arteta revealed Ozil is unhappy at being sidelined but said he would expect nothing less from a player wanting to play their part.
“I believe that he’s not very happy because he’s not playing,” he said.
“But as well he picked up an injury the other day and we have to wait and see how he evolves.
“I’m expecting a player that is not playing to feel hurt and disappointed.
“I want all my players at their best and to have the ability to be able to pick them to help the squad as much as possible and that’s the only intention I have.”