Arsenal legend Tony Adams has suggested that Mesut Ozil needs to be “toughened up” by taking a kicking from team-mates in training.
While the 29-year-old midfielder’s ability remains without question, his suitability to life in the Premier League continues to be called into question.
Unai Emery took the decision to haul the German off during the Gunners’ last outing, with the Spaniard deciding that he needed more steel in the middle of the park during a 3-2 defeat at Chelsea.
Adams believes Ozil is capable of adapting his game to meet the demands of the English top-flight, but only if he receives the same kind of treatment as Dennis Bergkamp did during his time in north London.
The former Arsenal captain told The Sun: “If you have solidity and strength in your team, then Ozil is a great asset. He’s a World Cup winner and a class act.
“He’s like Bergkamp, who cruised through his first couple of years at the Arsenal.
“We had to get him a little bit toughened up but Ozil hasn’t got the people around him to push him and get him going.
“There’s only so much a coach can do. It starts in training. We used to kick Dennis. [Steve] Bouldy would kick him up in the air again and again.
“After a while of this he turned round and stamped on Bouldy and said ‘I’ve had enough of you effing kicking me, you’re going to get a little bit back here’.
“We all said ‘aye, aye, he’s a got a bit about him — Hallelujah!’
“But it’s all become a little bit too nice there. You can’t criticise or say bad things.
"When I was at the club, if people weren’t pulling their weight, I’d tell them. If you haven’t got leaders, you get anarchy. People just do what they want to do.
“The game has changed and it’s not about kicking people now but it is still about aggression.
“It’s about tracking runners, getting in behind teams, getting down the throats of opponents and really testing their touch.”
Adams believes Arsene Wenger is partly to blame for the shift in culture at Arsenal, with the Frenchman – who saw a 22-year reign with the Gunners come to an end over the summer – placing more emphasis on artistry than battling qualities.
The ex-England international said: “For the last 10 years he lost the balance.
“He stuck to his principles but he has an obsessive and addictive personality — he had to, to stay in that job for so long.
“Dave Sexton always said that a team needed a balance of ‘artists and soldiers’. Now George Graham would have wanted 10 soldiers and one artist.
“Arsene would have wanted 10 artists and one soldier. But I played this game with him once and he said ‘you need 11 artistic soldiers, Tony!’
“That was his perfectionism. His obsession was to play free, play open, with no fear. Be entertaining and construct 18-pass moves for every goal.
“That’s a wonderful starting point but you maybe need a bit of realism when you don’t have the best players in the world.”