'He's a magician' - Ozil is like Bergkamp, says Arsenal great Pires

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The former Gunners winger has faith in a player who continues to divide opinion at the Emirates after five years with the club

Arsenal legend Robert Pires has compared Mesut Ozil to club legend Dennis Bergkamp and described the German as "a magician".

The Gunners made the midfielder their highest-paid player when they handed him a contract extension until 2021 last season.

The playmaker, 30, has failed to completely win over supporters of the London club, with doubts about his form, attitude and injury record persisting after five years at Emirates Stadium.

Despite that, Pires - who starred for Arsenal between 2000 and 2006 - is a huge admirer.

He told Joe: "He hasn’t started many games [recently] because he's been injured with a small back problem. But now, the most important thing is to see Mesut in the line-up.

"He’s very clever, he can make good assists and sometimes he can score.

"For me, he’s like Dennis Bergkamp, he’s a magician, a maestro.

"Of course, he’s not a warrior, like Dennis... or like me. But in the team, you need everything. And when you have Mesut, he’s important."

Pires, 45, believes Arsenal manager Unai Emery has put his stamp on the club after replacing legendary boss Arsene Wenger ahead of the current season.

"I think since the beginning, he’s done well," added Pires. "It was very difficult for him because a lot of people, fans, media, they compared him to Wenger.

Thierry Henry Dennis Bergkamp Robert Pires Arsenal

"I think he's put something new in the dressing room - he’s more strict. Of course, it’s totally different for the players, but he’s put in good rules for the team, and it’s good because he has kept the same Arsenal philosophy."

And Pires is keen to see his former club lift the Europa League as a route back to the Champions League next season.

They face Napoli in the quarter-finals next month and the Frenchman said: "I hope and I wish for [Arsenal to win the competition] because this is the target for the club, for the manager and of course for the players, because if we win the Europa League we go straight to the Champions League next season.

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"If we beat Napoli, I think we can lift the trophy. It should be a very difficult game because Napoli are one of the favourites to win the Europa League but actually, I think Arsenal are on a very good run in the Premier League, in the Europa League we beat a very good French team, Rennes.

"So I think we are very confident, I'm happy about Emery, he's doing well. So that's why for the games against Napoli I am very positive and confident."

Arsenal, fourth in the Premier League table, face Newcastle on Monday.

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