Arsenal footballers Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac have been caught in the middle of a gang dispute, according to reports.
Last month, the two players were the victims of a carjacking attempt by an armed gang on mopeds and the pair missed the Gunners’ match at Newcastle United yesterday because of “further security incidents”.
It is now reported that they are under 24-hour security amid fears that they are caught up in a war between rival gangs. Two men were arrested after turning up at Ozil’s home near Hampstead Heath, north London, on Thursday.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
It is believed that the men had an altercation with the footballer’s security staff and were being held on suspected public order offences. Incidents were reported outside Kolasinac’s home, also in north London. There are also claims that the families of Ozil and Kolasinac have been targeted online.
The Times says that “unknown to the footballers, eastern European gangsters are believed to have warned against any future attacks on the pair,” leading to an escalation of threats by a rival gang.
The Sun on Sunday quotes a source as saying: “Word came back from the other gangsters that they would not be intimidated. 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.”
The two players missed yesterday’s game after police said that they had received “credible threats”. They were given permission to remain with their families in London. The decision not to play them for this reason is believed to be unprecedented in English football.
Unai Emery, Arsenal’s manager, said: “The welfare of our players and their families is always a top priority and we have taken this decision following discussion with the players.”
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.