Arsenal manager Unai Emery must find a role for Mesut Ozil in his new system, or he may have to consider selling the German playmaker, Paul Merson has told talkSPORT. After a tumultuous summer – which saw the midfielder end his international career following Germany’s shock World Cup exit and spark a racism row with the German FA (DFB) – Ozil’s return to his club for the new season has not been a smooth one.
Often criticised by fans for his attitude on the field, Ozil has largely been a bystander as the Gunners get to grips with the new approach of new boss Emery, and mysteriously sat out of the London derby against West Ham due to ‘illness’. Ozil now faces a two-week break from action after quitting Germany, with manager Joachim Low recently revealing the 29-year-old has “closed the door” on any potential return.
But his future at Arsenal also appears uncertain. The playmaker signed a new contract in February worth a reported £350,000-a-week and was also handed the club’s number ten shirt over the summer, but Merson believes the appointment of Emery has put a massive question mark over his role in the team.
And the former Gunners midfielder believes the new boss needs to find a way of getting the best out of ‘top player’ Ozil, or face the reality that he does fit in his newly-implemented system at the Emirates. Speaking with talkSPORT host Max Rushden on Wednesday, Merson said: “I’m a big fan of Mesut Ozil, but he splits opinion. “I think he’s a top player, but I don’t think he’ll be able to play in this team of squeezing, it’s just not his game.
“For me, you always play your best players, so he should be playing in that team. “At £350k-a-week, you’ve got to make a space for him, Arsenal can’t afford to be giving him that sort of money and not play him. “But if not, you’ve got to get rid of him.
“It’s a hard one. If I was manager, I would want him in the team but then I’ll be watching the game and I’d be thinking, ‘what did I pick him for?’”