Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Arsenal star Mesut Ozil under 24-hour protection in London home

Footballers caught up in the middle of a London gang dispute

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, right, with defender Sead Kolasinac were approached by two knife-wielding men in London recently. Getty Images
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, right, with defender Sead Kolasinac were approached by two knife-wielding men in London recently. Getty Images

Arsenal footballers Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac are under 24-hour security guard protection having been reportedly caught in the middle of a battle between two rival London gangs.

Both players were left out of Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Newcastle after the Premier League club were concerned for their security and welfare.

“The welfare of our players and their families is always a top priority and we have taken this decision following discussion with the players and their representatives,” the club said in a statement.

It is believed that the Arsenal duo have been targeted by rival gangs and have faced “credible threats”, police said.

Two men were arrested outside Ozil’s north London home last Thursday after claims of an altercation with Ozil’s personal security staff.

Both players were targeted in an attempted carjacking last month. Video footage appeared on social media of Mr Kolasinac fighting off two men on a moped.

The robbers gave chase through Golders Green, north London, before the Arsenal stars sought help inside a Turkish restaurant.

An Eastern European gang unknown to the Arsenal pair have warned a rival gang of planning future attacks, leading to further threats.

“Word came back from the other gangsters that they would not be intimidated,” a source told The Sun on Sunday newspaper.

“To show they were serious, the thugs issued more threats to the Arsenal players and refused to be cowed. It was thought that originally the robbers wanted their watches but now they have been told that they want everything the pair have.”

There are also claims that the families of the footballers have been targeted online.

The newspaper said Mr Kolasnic’s wife left for Germany because of security concerns.

Arsenal have not confirmed if the pair will play a part in their coming home fixture against Burnley on Saturday.

Born in Germany and of Turkish heritage, Mr Ozil has been in London since his £42.5 million (Dh188.5m) move to Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013.

Mr Kolasinac joined the Gunners in 2017. The pair celebrated marrying their long-term partners this summer.

Both Mr Ozil and his Bosnian teammate openly celebrate their Muslim faith and wished supporters Eid Mubarak at the weekend.

Updated: August 12, 2019 06:56 PM

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