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Wenger urges Mesut Ozil to commit future to Arsenal ahead of north London derby
Arsene Wenger has encouraged Mesut Ozil to commit to Arsenal long-term if he is to be appreciated by the club's supporters in the same way as Dennis Bergkamp.
Ozil is Arsenal's record signing having joined the Gunners from Real Madrid in 2013 for a fee reported to be in excess of B#40million.
Since then, the German World Cup winner has dazzled fans and opposition alike with his languid style, and his winning goal against Ludogorets on Tuesday night which saw Arsenal qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League for a 17th successive season was testament to his obvious ability.
Wenger will now be looking to the 28-year-old to come up with similar goods when Arsenal host fierce local rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday to increase his standing with the club's fan-base further still.
But the Frenchman also warned that Ozil, whose contract expires in the summer of 2018 with a new deal up for discussion for some time, needs to remain at the club if he wants to be spoken of in the same breath as players such as Bergkamp.
"There are similarities," Wenger replied when asked if he would compare Ozil to the Dutchman who spent over a decade at Arsenal, winning three Premier League titles and playing his part in the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season.
And when pushed on whether Ozil could be seen in a similar light, the 67-year-old said: "I think so, I think if he commits.
"Dennis Bergkamp committed for a long period, played until he was 38. I wish we have 10 more years of Ozil. That depends. To become a legend at the club you need to stay for a long time.
"I understand that being a legend like Dennis Bergkamp, if you stay two years you would not be a legend."
While Wenger wants Ozil to stay, he was also handed a boost when Hector Bellerin insisted on Friday that he sees his future at the club.
The 21-year-old Spain international faces a late fitness test to be fit for Sunday's derby having recently been strongly linked to Manchester City in recent weeks, while a return to Barcelona - where he started his career at their fabled La Masia academy - has been suggested for some time.
But, having been at his best in an ever-present start to the Premier League campaign, Bellerin has dismissed as rumour any suggestion he will agitate to leave the Gunners any time soon.
"If I wanted to play there I would have stayed there," he told Standard Sport when asked about links to Barcelona.
"I was very happy when Arsenal showed interest in me and I decided to come here. I'm not looking back, I'm just looking to help Arsenal.
"It's nice for a player to know that big teams want you but I'm very happy here.
"I've still got three years left on my contract so I'm just focused on playing every single week, improving and hopefully making things happen here at Arsenal."
Spurs, looking to halt a recent slump that has included six games without a victory, have suffered from injuries to a number of key players, in particular Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane, the team's two best players last season, but also Erik Lamela, Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Hugo Lloris.
It means their squad has been pushed to its limit and a lack of strength in depth has been exposed with a Tottenham substitute is yet to score a goal this season.
Kane is set to play for the first time in seven weeks this weekend after overcoming an ankle injury but Mauricio Pochettino insists his team's dip has not been down to the striker's absence alone.
"We were talking before about Dele Alli who has maybe dropped a little bit and is not scoring in the same way that he did last season - maybe in the last month he has been ill, he has had a cold and had problems," Pochettino said.
"Maybe we have some injured players that we can't rotate and maybe some players are tired. That happens sometimes in football.
"Mixed together, maybe we have dropped our performance. But in my opinion there are many things that happen sometimes in football that are too difficult to explain."