LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) – Arsenal must get midfielder Mesut Ozil involved in the first team again and keeping him sidelined is a “waste” of the playmaker’s creativity, the club’s former manager Arsene Wenger has said.
Ozil played all Premier League matches under Mikel Arteta before the season was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the 31-year-old has not played a single minute for Arsenal since the 2019-20 season restarted in June.
However, Ozil had vowed to stay at the club until the end of his contract in 2021 despite being dropped from the squad. He was also omitted from Arsenal’s Europa League squad for the group stage this season.
“He’s in the years where a player of his talent can produce the most,” Wenger told the BBC. “And it’s a waste for the club as well because he’s a super talent, a creative talent that in the final third can create that killer pass.
“The way football is going at the moment it’s quick counter-pressing, quick transitions and everybody plays the same. It’s kicked out players like Ozil. Although let’s not forget who this guy is, a world champion who has played at Real Madrid.
“He’s been the record player of assists, so you have to find a way to get him involved again.” Wenger also said Arsenal were in good hands under Arteta, who was appointed after the departure of Unai Emery last season with the London side staring at the prospect of a season without European football.
“He has the ingredients to be a very good manager, a top manager,” Wenger added.
“We have to give them time, let them do their job in the way they want to do it. He’s intelligent, he has big passion and a strong character. And I believe he’s surrounding himself with the right people.”
Separately, Wenger has warned that “smaller clubs will die” without urgent action to safeguard the future of the lower leagues as proposals for a major reform of English football have caused division and rancour.
The controversial “Project Big Picture” plan put forward by Liverpool and Manchester United has been branded a power grab for attempting to change voting structures in the Premier League in favour of the Big Six clubs, also including Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham.
However, the proposals would provide the English Football League (EFL) with a much-needed injection of £250 million (S$443 million) to ease the coronavirus crisis and allocate 25 per cent of future broadcasting revenues down through the pyramid.
“If nothing happens, the smaller clubs will die,” Wenger, now Fifa’s chief of global football development, told Sky Sports. “I don’t think that one payment will sort out the problem. The problem is much deeper than that. The money certainly has to be shared, the income of the top clubs has to be shared a fraction more with the smaller clubs.”
The UK government and other Premier League clubs are among those to voice their disquiet over the project.
“It is exactly this type of backroom dealing that undermines trust in football governance,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said on Monday.
“In terms of support for EFL clubs, we have been given assurances by both the Premier League and the EFL that they have no intention to let any club go bust due to Covid and we know that they have the means to prevent this from happening within their existing mechanisms.”