Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac are reportedly in lockdown and are being guarded around the clock after being caught up in a string of “security incidents”.
The players were targeted by knife-wielding muggers in north London last month and are now under 24-hour guard following further incidents, including one on Thursday, The Sun reports.
Arsenal announced on Friday that Ozil and Kolasinac would not be in the squad for Sunday’s Premier League opener at Newcastle after “further security incidents” had taken place.
It comes amid reports of the pair being caught in the middle of a gang war, with The Sun claiming a rival gang of East Europeans has intervened in a bid to ward off more attacks.
The gang reportedly made it known that attacks on the players would not be accepted, but the newspaper 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 not they have been told that they want everything the pair have.”
It comes as two men were charged over the incident on Thursday. According to reports, they were arrested after becoming involved in an altercation with security staff outside Ozil’s house.
Kolasinac’s wife Bella has reportedly since fled to Germany.
A police statement read: “Two men have been charged under Section 4a of the Public Order Act following an incident in Camden on Thursday, 8 August.
“Ferhat Ercan, 27, and Salaman Ekinci, 27, were charged on 9 August following the incident and are due to appear at Highbury Corner magistrates’ court on 6 September.”
Incidents are also said to have taken place outside Kolasinac’s home.
Neither midfielder Ozil, 30, nor defender Kolasinac, 26, have been harmed.
Arsenal’s statement read: “Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac will not be part of the squad for our opening match against Newcastle United following further security incidents which are being investigated by the police.
“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.
“We are liaising with the police and are providing the players and their families with ongoing support. We look forward to welcoming the players back to the squad as soon as possible.”