Mesut Ozil is a “luxury player”, admits Paul Merson, with Arsenal considered to be doing themselves few favours in freezing him out and edging him ever closer to the exits.
Speculation regarding a January move away from north London for the World Cup winner is building.
That is because he has slipped out of favour under Unai Emery and is struggling to earn a place in matchday squads, never mind starting lineups.
Merson is puzzled as to why a proven performer is being ostracised, with the 30-year-old still the most talented option that the Gunners have at their disposal.
The former Arsenal star told the Daily Star of goings on at Emirates Stadium: “Mesut Ozil should be starting Arsenal ’s next few games so they can take advantage of how badly Tottenham and Manchester United are struggling.
“Arsenal have to make hay while the sun shines and their rivals are struggling, so they have got to put some points together in these games and go on a run.
“It’s a big few weeks for them – and that’s why I would play Ozil. I personally think he’s their best player. In terms of ability and talent he’s the best player at the club.
“He’s a luxury player, and the manager has obviously decided he can’t carry a player like that in a team that’s already one of the worst around without the ball.
“But with these games coming up, Arsenal are going to have 70% of the possession. He thrives in those situations.
“Unai Emery should bring him in from the cold. But he won’t. If he plays Ozil and they win, he has to keep playing him, and the manager doesn’t want that. The manager wants him out.
“And if that’s the plan then they are going to have to swallow a pill and get rid of him in January come what may. He’s on £350,000-a-week and he’s not playing and doesn’t look like having any chance of playing. I think that’s a mistake.
“But if Emery has made his mind up, Arsenal are going to have to find him a move – and they will have to subsidise his wages to do it because no-one else is playing him that.”
Merson added on Ozil, who has taken in just two appearances this season: “I thought Ozil was Arsenal’s best player against Watford and he hasn’t played since. That shocked me to be honest.
“If he’s showing it in training, he will be embarrassing a lot of the other players there, trust me. But he’s not getting picked.
“I’ve had plenty of arguments about this with people who say: ‘Oh, he doesn’t work hard enough’ – and that’s the way the game’s gone these days.
“But I would still play him in these games. It was madness giving him the money they did. And they won’t be able to sign a lot of players until his wages are off the books. But I still think he’s a proper player.
“Will we ever see Mesut Ozil ripping it up somewhere else? It’s hard to say because you’re only as good as your team-mates and it depends where he goes.
“But he’s not finished just because he’s hit 30. He still has more to give for me and could be a success somewhere else.”