Arsene Wenger should have sold Mesut Ozil

Arsenal should have cashed in on Mesut Ozil (©GettyImages)

If reports are true that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger rejected the opportunity to cash-in on Mesut Ozil this summer, then it would rank alongside the most glaring mistakes of the Frenchman’s 18-year tenure with the Gunners.

Unless the offer was derisory, which seems unlikely given how highly Pep Guardiola rates the former Real Madrid star, Wenger should have jumped at the chance to offload the Germany international - regardless of the quality he possesses.

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Ozil: Disastrous signing

That Ozil was one of the world’s best playmakers during his time at the Bernabeu cannot be disputed, but the £42.4 million attacking midfielder has been an unmitigated disaster since joining the Gunners last summer.

Barring the odd, and all too rare, moment of class, Ozil has been a shadow of the player who tore apart La Liga defences for three years, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, following his high-profile move from Werder Bremen in 2010.

Perhaps Spanish football suited him more than the frenetic-paced Premier League, where opposition defenders know that getting tight to the World Cup winner is often enough to mark him out of the game completely.

Ozil's concerning lack of effort

But the most worrying thing for Arsenal supporters is Ozil’s apparent lack of effort. Much has been said over the months about the player’s negative body language - hunched shoulders, no real urgency, continually complaining after decisions go against his or Arsenal’s way, etc - and while this may not be problematic in itself, when coupled with poor performances it indicates that the situation is likely to improve unless his attitude does.

What Ozil could possibly have to feel miserable about is anyone’s guess. This is the highest-paid player at Arsenal, blessed with extraordinary ability, but seemingly no real willingness to show it.

Real Madrid exit has affected Ozil

It’s possible that his departure from Real Madrid hit him hard. However you look at it, leaving the bright lights of the Bernabeu for Arsenal - certainly one of Europe’s big clubs, but not in the same class as Los Blancos - is a step down.

Had Ozil not been playing regularly with Real Madrid then it would have been a great move, but his nose was put out of joint by the arrival of world-record signing Gareth Bale and he felt forced out of the club.

Ozil must follow Di Maria's example

In hindsight, he probably wishes he’d done what Angel di Maria did instead: stayed and fought for his place in the Real Madrid starting eleven.

Di Maria was expected to leave the Bernabeu after Bale arrived but, instead of jumping ship, not only went on to establish himself in a totally new position but was arguably Real Madrid’s most important player last season.

Of course, he was still sold to Manchester United this summer after Real Madrid spent big money on James Rodriguez, but that’s a decision which could cost Florentino Perez - and the Spanish giants - dear this season.

Ozil should take another leaf out of Di Maria’s book by displaying the same hunger out on the pitch. Just because he spent three years with Real Madrid and has won a World Cup winners’ medal doesn’t make him untouchable, but it’s unclear whether he’s aware of this.

Ozil's knee injury

Now news has broken that Ozil will miss the next 10-12 weeks with a knee injury, meaning he might not play again until January, it promises to be even more of a challenge for the German to rediscover his best form when he returns.

This will be another untimely blow to his already shattered confidence. His value, meanwhile, will decrease even further.

Comparisons with Juan Sebastian Veron

Ozil’s story, in many ways, bares similarities to that of former Manchester United midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron.

The Argentina international arrived at Old Trafford for a club-record £28.1 million fee in 2001, with his reputation as one of Europe’s best central midfielders intact.

And while his first month was certainly impressive - most will have forgotten that he was named the Premier League Player of the Month in August 2001 - the eye-catching performances quickly tailed off.

Veron failed to adjust to the pace of the Premier League, his confidence was subsequently left shot to pieces, and Sir Alex Ferguson agreed after two years to flog him to Chelsea for a £13.1 million loss.

Despite his difficulties at Old Trafford, it would have been totally wrong to have dismissed the South American’s immense talent. In the Champions League he looked a totally different player; spellbinding at times.

Wenger must hold up his hands and admit he got it wrong

But Ozil hasn’t even managed to impress in Europe’s elite club competition during his 13 months at the Emirates Stadium.

When it comes to his players, Wenger is the eternal optimist - why else would he have allowed Nicklas Bendtner to have spent nine years with the Gunners? - but there comes as a time when a manager needs to hold his hands up and admit to themselves: this isn’t going to work.

Arsenal will look better without Ozil over the next three months, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out on the left flank instead, and it’ll make it even more clear that Wenger should have snapped Pep Guardiola’s hands off when that offer came in over the summer.

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