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Wenger: Ozil contract extension may have left him in 'comfort zone'

2:05 AM WAT 19/02/2019
Mesut Ozil Arsenal 25012019
The former Arsenal manager admitted being in a difficult spot when handing the playmaker a new deal but said it might be influencing his performance

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger speculated giving Mesut Ozil a new contract may have left the playmaker in a comfort zone and not at his best.

Ozil signed a new contract just over a year ago with just six months remaining on his previous deal with the Gunners.

Faced with the prospect of losing Ozil for nothing, the club elected to give him a three-and-half year contract through the end of the 2021 season.

While that happened with Wenger at the helm with the belief the German would be one of team's stars going forward, Ozil’s place in the team has changed under new Arsenal manager Unai Emery.

The 30-year-old Ozil has found himself relegated to the fringes of the XI, with speculation over his future growing ever louder.

And Wenger, who was speaking after receiving a Lifetime Achievement honour at the Laureus World Sports Awards, conceded that the contract Ozil received was made with the hope, like all moves, that the club would receive the best from the player over the term of the deal.

However, the former Gunners boss said that does not always happen as a player can grow comfortable and not perform or practice at their best.

“I feel that the length of the contract has nothing to do normally with the selection of the team,” Wenger was quoted as saying by the Guardian. “But sometimes there are special cases.

“Most of the time now we think when we sign a player for five years we have a good player for five years.

“But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they practice, they play their best. Because they might be in their comfort zone.”

However, Wenger also noted the difficult situation the club was in, saying that they faced the choice of paying a large fee and contract for a replacement or simply re-signing a player already on their team.

“He has a contract but the problem is that if you want to buy a player like him you have to spend £100 million,” Wenger added. “And to maintain the value of the player, beyond the Özil case, it is more about the way football is structured.

“To buy players of top, top quality you need £100m. So the decision you have to make is whether you re-sign the player, who costs us nothing, or do we have the money to buy a new player?”