Mesut Ozil’s issues at Arsenal have been caused by a desire for confrontation and not a lack of sporting ability, claims former Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
The legendary French coach was the man to take the mercurial playmaker to north London in the summer of 2013. Arsenal smashed their transfer record to prise Ozil away from Real Madrid in a £42.5 million ($55m) deal.
The 2018 World Cup winner has helped the Gunners to three FA Cup triumphs across his seven years in English football, scoring 44 goals and providing 77 assists in 254 appearances.
The 32-year-old has, however, faced questions of consistency throughout his time at Emirates Stadium and has regularly been linked with a move elsewhere.
Ozil is firmly frozen out of the fold at present under Mikel Arteta, with the German omitted from Arsenal’s Europa League squad, and Wenger feels for a man whose talent has never been in question.
The iconic former Gunners boss told Sky Sports: “I don't know what's happening on a daily basis, I will just say one thing - creative players are perfectionists.
"They are a bit more sensitive and sometimes they need to be encouraged because, of course, if I want to play a risky pass I need to be confident. Creative players make the pass that makes a team dangerous.
“Mesut Ozil is an exceptional football player. What happens at the moment between him and the club looks to be more confrontational. It's not based only on sport.
“If Ozil cannot play in the Europa League, I'm sorry, but this guy has won things, he's a world champion, he's an exceptional football player.
“Why is he not playing at the moment? I don't know. When you're a football player you have to respect the decision of your manager and fight to get the confidence back and fight to get back in the team. He can fight, contrary to what people think. He has enough quality to get back into the team, that's down to him now.”
Ozil is into the final year of his contract and appears destined to become a free agent in 2021, but a recall could be earned if he meets Arteta’s demands and works his way back into favour.
Pressed further on why an enigmatic figure is not getting game time at present, Wenger added: “I don't know. I believe he can play in the Premier League. You practice every day and you make sure if it doesn't work you can go and play somewhere else.”