Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has been ‘softened’ by the signing of his new contract, according to Lee Dixon.
Ozil has made 218 Arsenal appearances since joining from Real Madrid in 2013 and signed a new, big-money deal in February 2018 with his previous contract nearing expiry.
Has Ozil lost his drive? Five key things to know…
- Ozil has scored 42 goals and provided 74 assists since joining Arsenal in 2013.
- The 30-year-old was Arsenal’s Player of the Season in 2015-16 and has helped them to three FA Cups.
- The midfielder signed a new deal in February 2018 as his previous contract neared its end.
- Since then, Ozil has created more chances in the Premier League (48) than any other Arsenal player.
- Lee Dixon, though, believes his new contract has ‘softened’ him.
Since then, no Arsenal player has created more chances in the Premier League than Ozil’s 48, although his teammates have only managed to score three of them.
Despite this creativity, the 30-year-old continues to come under fire from sections of the media and Arsenal fanbase, with ex-defender Dixon the latest to slam Ozil.
“Signing him up on a big deal was seen as a must not to lose him,” Dixon said. “But the character of the player has to be taken into consideration.
“When you give somebody that amount of money it probably wouldn’t affect some players. But it looks as if it has softened him.
“He doesn’t look driven, he doesn’t look hungry, and when that happens you have a problem.
“You need Ozil firing as well as the ability of the team to carry him at times when he is not quite functioning.
“There is no doubt that the team needs a player like Ozil playing at his best.
“Even an Ozil not quite at his best because the creativity that seems to be lacking from that midfield area, from the No. 10 area, stands out a mile.”
Arsenal travel to Rennes for their Europa League round-of-16 first leg on Thursday.
Dixon: the manager has to be in control
Although he did admit Ozil is Arsenal’s best creative player, Dixon insists Unai Emery has been right to rotate the former Germany international, making him fight for his place to do so.
The ex-England international believes the manager ‘has to be in control’ and that Ozil’s perceived loss of form means he shouldn’t be picked purely on reputation.
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He added: “Emery has played it really well. He has inherited a problem that, as the manager, he sees fit to deal with it the way he has done.
“The manager has to be in control. Once the control starts to ebb away not only do you get into a fight with the player but you also affect the dressing room.
“There has to be a policing of that dressing room from the manager and from the inside.
“If you get one that polices itself, it takes a lot of pressure off the manager, it also sees everyone take accountability and responsibility for each other.
“He has let himself down over this period of time.
“If he was in a dressing room I played in, there would have been a sit-down chat and a talking from inside.”