Paul Merson thinks that Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil is “one of the worst players in the world” when he doesn’t have the ball.
Ozil signed a three-and-a-half-year extension in February 2018 when Arsenal panickedly threw £350,000 a week at the German to stay in north London.
The German was left out of Mikel Arteta’s squad to play Manchester City in their first game back after the Premier League restart, with the Spaniard claiming that Ozil needs “a little bit of time” before he can play for Arsenal again this season.
He was an unused substitute for their other Premier League matches against Brighton and Southampton, while he didn’t make the squad for their 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Sheffield United over the weekend.
And Merson doesn’t think Ozil can cope with playing at Arsenal as they struggle in the Premier League with the 31-year-old needing to be in a side that dominate teams every game.
“I think Ozil is a prime example of a player who has to play in a proper team, that is going to be right up there, dominating football matches. He’s got to play in a majorly successful team,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“He can’t play in this Arsenal team, here’s why: he’s not going to change his game now in his 30s, and Arsenal aren’t going to change their game for him.
“He isn’t tracking back, chasing players, and you need him in a team where you’re getting 70 per cent of the ball each week, and he’ll play. You get players around him, let him play. We all know how Ozil plays, you give him the ball and he’ll find you. If you don’t have the ball, he won’t win it back for you for love nor money.
“He’s not interested when they don’t have the ball. How can you give someone £350k-a-week when we all knew that was his style of play?
“If he hasn’t got the ball he’s one of the worst players in the world! I would say that. Name me a worse player in the world when their team doesn’t have the ball. I’ve never seen somebody so disinterested when they don’t have the ball, but he hurts you at the other end!
“Can Arsenal form a team around him? At the moment, it’s at the stage where you can’t do that. They’re not going to change the team for him. He’ll pick up his £350,000-a-week and everything is rosy for him.”
On Ozil’s huge wage packet, Merson added: “They have to come to a deal with him; maybe he’ll take £200k a week somewhere else. I don’t know how this gets resolved though.
“Does he want to play football? If he loves football, he has to come to a deal with Arsenal, but it’s easy to say that. Nobody wants to lose £150k a week, no matter how much you earn! Who is mad enough to throw that money away, no matter who you are?”