Martin Keown thinks Arsene Wenger is keeping Mesut Ozil away from Arsenal’s younger players because the German has ‘downed tools’ ahead of an Arsenal exit.
The World Cup winner has been struggling with a knee problem and has only managed a short cameo against West Bromwich Albion in the last month. The 28-year-old had been expected to travel to Belarus for the Europa League game with BATE Borisov, but Keown now claims the midfielder didn’t fancy it and was subsequently left at home.
Ozil is out of contract next summer and is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs in January; it’s a situation Keown thinks is taking a toll on the player’s relationship with Wenger.
“I think he’s testing Wenger more than any other player has,” Keown told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I think it was Belarus the other week, he didn’t fancy going. He didn’t want to go.
“Suddenly he was injured again, he played nine minutes against West Bromwich Albion on the Monday, so how did he get injured there?
“I think in some departments he’s already left. Psychologically, mentally, he’s already left the football club. Maybe Wenger is now trying to do the best deal he can to get some compensation for him.”
Having been appalling in the 4-0 defeat to Anfield, Ozil missed the much-improved 0-0 draw away at Chelsea, a game that saw Alex Iwobi handed the keys to the number 10 position. Keown thinks the decision may well pay dividends in the long-term.
“I think he doesn’t want that sort of player [Ozil] around the youngsters in the group.
“They played exceptionally well at Chelsea, where [Alex] Iwobi did a really manful job – I know he hasn’t got the talent of Ozil, of course, but suddenly Arsenal could compete in both departments defensively and attacking -wise. It was probably the best performance I’ve seen in a couple of years.
“I was really impressed and it seemed like every player was giving their best. Sanchez is different. He loves playing football, just give him a ball and he’ll play and that’s all he wants to do.
“But Ozil, I think he’s downed tools, he wants to go and it’s going to get messy.”