Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded that club-record signing Mesut Ozil needs more time to adapt mentally to the challenge of fighting for silverware on multiple fronts this season, telling the Independent that he wants the German international to play with more freedom.
Ozil's recent struggles in an Arsenal shirt have been heavily scrutinised over the last 10 days, particularly following his penalty miss against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
The 25-year-old missed last week's 4-1 win over Sunderland with a bruised thigh, but resumed full training on Wednesday and is expected to be back in the Arsenal starting XI against Stoke City tomorrow afternoon.
Wenger has admitted that Ozil may be carrying the burden of his hefty £42.4m price tag but not due to pressure he has applied, imploring his star playmaker to show his quality by expressing himself in advanced areas.
He told the Irish Independent: “It is difficult for him mentally to be confronted with that pressure every three days and in every single competition.
“But he will adapt. Is he carrying more of a burden here than at Real Madrid? He shouldn’t do that. I never tell him: ‘You have to win us the game.’
“Maybe he feels that [being the record signing] in a different way than I do. I just want him to enjoy it and play well.
“I don’t worry about Ozil. He has gone a little bit through a difficult time. It can happen to anybody.
"He is all right. He loves to play. You give him a ball, he’s happy. That’s the most important thing. And he has the quality, so I don’t worry."
Wenger faces a difficult decision over whether to recall Ozil at the Britannia Stadium this weekend, with Tomas Rosicky deputising brilliantly in his absence against Sunderland and getting on the scoresheet in the process.