If Arsene Wenger needed any more proof that Mesut Ozil is worth the excessive wage demands, he got it on Tuesday night.
Ozil’s hat-trick in the Champions League win over Ludogorets booked the Gunners’ place in the last-16, but it also will have caught the attention of Europe’s elite, who are no doubt all too aware that the German’s contract expires in 2018.
Reports claim the in-form playmaker is seeking more than £200,000-per-week, an improvement on his current £140,000-per-week.
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Ozil is in the best form of his life and has added another element to his game with seven goals already this season. Can anybody argue that he isn’t worth the £60,000 weekly pay rise?
The negotiating process will certainly be eased if Arsenal win the title next May. But Wenger would prefer to have Ozil’s future decided by next summer.
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That’s why he’s urged the 28-year-old to make a long-term commitment in the club.
Legend? Not yet
In Wenger’s eyes, Ozil will only be considered an Arsenal legend - alongside the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, whom he has drawn comparisons with - if he stays at the Emirates for “a long time”.
“There are similarities with Bergkamp. I think he can become a legend - if he commits,” Wenger said on Friday, via the Mirror.
“Dennis Bergkamp committed for a long period, played until he was 38. I wish we have ten 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.
“We work on it (the contract), we work on it.”
Ozil’s popularity has increased with some superlative performances this season. He was good last year - he recorded 19 Premier League assists - but he’s taken his game to another level since.
“I believe he is at an age he is more mature,” Wenger added. “He is 28. The difference today is he focuses more on efficiency. When he arrived here he was more a player to play, focused on playing.
“Today efficiency is more in his mind. The main transformation we got from him, he makes more runs in behind to score goals.”
Goals have been the most noticeable change in Ozil’s game. He scored eight, five and eight goals in his first three season’s in England, so he’s firmly on pace to set a personal best.
Wenger continued: “I always encouraged him. I convinced him that he has it in his locker to score goals. He was more focused on giving and looking.
“Today he understands that he can have those qualities but as well be on the end of things.”