Freddie Ljungberg believes there is still a place for Mesut Ozil in an Arsenal side under Mikel Arteta despite the German having been frozen out all season so are the club lying?
You all know the story. Mikel Arteta picked Mesut Ozil for every game, then football took a break, Ozil refused his blind paycut, China applied a bit more pressure and now nobody has seen the best creative player at the club play a minute of football since he got one against West Ham in March.
The official line is Ozil doesn’t show enough in training to warrant being picked, but player after player, coach after coach, have come out with comments to rubbish that suggestion and while Ljungberg doesn’t criticise Arsenal, he couldn’t be clearer – Ozil should still be playing.
Was Mesut Ozil just not crap in training when Freddie Ljungberg was around?
“Mesut is a great football player, we know that,” Ljungberg told The Athletic. “We all have different opinions and everybody needs to accept that people have different opinions. For me, maybe the way football has gone now sometimes he’s not as athletic defensively. Let’s say when you play Man City you don’t have the ball and need to just run after them, maybe you need more athletic players.
“What I tried to do, what I believed in, was that when you play teams who, on paper, you’re a bigger club than or you think they’ll have a low block and you need someone to unlock it, Mesut has the total quality to do that. I think there is a space for a player like that in those kinds of games.
“But then as well you need to have a communication with the player — not just Mesut, every player. Different games suit certain players and other games suit others. The days of playing every single minute of every game maybe are just not happening that often anymore.
“When I left in the summer, he was in the squads and now he’s not. What’s happened there, I can’t answer. I don’t know if something else has happened, I have no clue. But if you look at pure football qualities, I think my answer is quite obvious. When I was interim coach, I would play him in the games when I thought he could unlock defences, even if I knew his defensive job was not as good as some other players. So that’s my opinion — there should be a space in certain games.”
We all know that something else went on and maybe one day we will find out. With the January transfer window not far away, and Ozil able to agree terms with another side or go out on loan, there are those who believe that Arteta might draft him back into the side when they are allowed to update their officials squads.
I wouldn’t count on any of that happening.
Ozil has said all along he had a contract with Arsenal and he would see it out. It seems unlikely he will change his mind at this point.