Mesut Ozil has been accused by Arsenal legend Lee Dixon of losing his drive and hunger after landing a lucrative contract extension.
In a bid to prevent a World Cup winner from dropping into the free agent pool, the Gunners handed their German midfielder a big-money deal in February 2018.
The hope was that assurances over his future and a clear show of commitment from the club would see the 30-year-old become a talismanic figure under Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery.
That has not been the case, with questions asked of Ozil this season as he has struggled for form and slipped out of favour.
There have been signs in recent outings that the old spark is still there, but Dixon believes the most creative influence at Emirates Stadium has become too comfortable in his surroundings.
The ex-Arsenal defender told The Sun: “Signing him up on a big deal was seen as a must not to lose him.
“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.”
While conceding that Ozil remains the most talented player on Arsenal’s books, Dixon believes Emery has taken the right approach during his debut campaign at the helm in showing that he will not make team selections based on reputation.
The ex-England international 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 policies 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.”