Real Madrid legend Michel Salgado believes Unai Emery is similar to Rafa Benitez in that both managers struggle to control big personalities in the dressing room.
Emery has picked up where his predecessor, Arsene Wenger, left off and failed to truly get the best out of Mesut Ozil this season.
What is Ozil’s situation at Arsenal? Five key things to know…
- Ozil has been used fleetingly under Emery this season despite signing a bumper contract in February 2018.
- The German playmaker has been omitted from the starting XI on more than one occasion this season for “tactical reasons”.
- Emery has previously criticised Ozil’s physical condition saying he needs to be available “without the injuries, without being sick.”
- Ozil has also come under fire from some sections of the Arsenal contingency with Lee Dixon believing his new contract has “softened” him.
- The 30-year-old has provided just one goal and one assist in his last 11 outings.
The former Germany international has often sat on the periphery with Emery affording his No 10 just 15 Premier League starts this season.
Despite this, Ozil was heavily involved as the Gunners ran out 2-0 winners against Man Utd on Sunday with the north London club leapfrogging Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men into fourth.
However, Salgado has expressed major reservations Ozil can perform to a high standard consistently, due to Emery’s management style drawing direct parallels with Newcastle boss Benitez.
“He’s a special manager like Rafa Benitez,” Salgado, 43, told reporters. “He needs a squad with no big names, with no big egos. He cannot handle big egos.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
“He needs a squad with team-work players, players that he can shape, that he can develop, that he can get into his system.
“Then if he’s got depth in his squad and the right players to work for him during the season and they follow him and are ready for it, then he can get results like he did in Sevilla, winning three Europa Leagues back-to-back. The players were ready for him.
“They were great players, but no big egos, no big names. I think he needs to learn how to deal with egos. He’s still learning. I know in PSG it was difficult for him because those were really big egos.”
The ex-Blackburn Rovers right-back went on to endorse the German’s undoubted talent but warned Emery that he must adapt his system to fully utilise Ozil’s potential.
He added: “Ozil can be the only one who is a special player because he’s a talented player.
“It’s the job to try to get him into the system because he will need him. A team like Arsenal needs sometimes a different player, a talented player, that’s Ozil for sure.”
Ozil ‘disappeared’ against Man Utd – Wright
Arsenal secured maximum reward in the capital to boost their chances of a top-four finish, but club legend Ian Wright lambasted the performance of Ozil, who was taken off in the 77th minute.
Speaking on his official YouTube channel, Wright said: “Got to give the manager credit for putting out a very positive and offensive team.
“It’s great to see Auba, Laca, Ramsey and Ozil playing even though after a while, once Ole Gunnar Solskjaer realised that we were outnumbering them and Ozil was getting on the ball too much, they nullified that.
“Unfortunately, Ozil disappeared out of the game.”
Next up for Arsenal is the second leg of their Europa League round-of-16 tie against Rennes on Thursday, with the Gunners currently trailing 3-1 on aggregate.