Former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger claims that Mesut Özil could still thrive at the Emirates Stadium if current manager Mikel Arteta uses him in the right system.
Özil hasn't played a single minute this season in any competition and saw his chances of game time reduce further as he was omitted from the Gunners' 25-man Europa League squad, which appeared to be the final nail in the coffin of his Arsenal tenure.
Talks over a contract termination have been rumoured but are yet to take place, but Özil has no intention of tearing up his £350,000-a-week contract and instead wants to force his way back into Arteta's plans.
His chances of doing so appear slim, but one man who knows what Özil can bring to the table is Wenger, who brought him over to the Emirates in 2013, and the Frenchman has offered up his tips on how to get the best out of him.
“He wasn't exactly the one with the greatest discipline on the pitch," Wenger explained to Der Spiegel. "And playing the game without the ball wasn’t exactly his forte.
"But you can deal with that if you put some more defensively minded players by his side. The main thing is to get the balance between attack and defence right.”
However, Wenger did confess that football has evolved in recent years and may well have passed Özil by, with the German's elite creativity and vision not enough to earn him a spot in any team in the current game.
“Players have lost their technical quality over the past ten years,” Wenger added. “Athleticism has become more important than technique and decision making. It's more about physical characteristics and intensity, about explosiveness. And it's also about being a showman.”
That echoes concerns shown by Arteta, who has regularly insisted the door is open for Özil if he can prove his readiness to work hard in both training and matches.
The 31-year-old midfielder has one year left on his contract and is keen to prove he deserves an extension at Arsenal, but with Arteta preferring do-it-all midfielders like Dani Ceballos and Thomas Partey, it's hard to see a way back for Özil.
Source : 90min