Is it time for Unai Emery to persist with Mesut Ozil?
By Joe Harker
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey looks ever more likely to join Juventus on a free transfer at the end of the season. Even if the club had the money and desire to offer him a brand new contract it is highly unlikely he would accept at this point. It was the club's decision to withdraw his contract offer but with the benefit of hindsight that may not have been such a wise decision.
The reason for this is Mesut Ozil, who was given a new contract this time last year when Arsenal decided to keep him and lose Alexis Sanchez. He was the star player they kept and he got the wages to match, though it had the unwanted side effect of other players in the squad wanting higher wages to reflect the new precedent set by Ozil's contract.
Ramsey was one of these players who wanted to be paid what he thought he was worth but Arsenal decided they couldn't offer him a deal he was willing to accept and withdrew the contract offer at a time when he thought he was staying. The club don't have a lot of money lying around so they have to make the most of their most expensive investments.
That means making the most of Ozil, which Arsenal manager Unai Emery isn't doing at the moment. The German playmaker was left out in the 1-0 defeat to West Ham and Emery said Ozil was "like another player" and made it clear Arsenal's highest paid star wouldn't be getting special treatment. He hasn't played since Boxing Day and it is becoming increasingly clear that he doesn't fit cleanly into Emery's plans.
While clubs should be careful about giving their most valuable players special treatment they must also try and get the best out of them. Ozil represents a significant investment on Arsenal's part, they cannot have their best paid player being left out regularly.
Former Gunners striker Ian Wright believes his old club "can't afford" to ignore Ozil. They lacked creativity against West Ham and Ozil is one of the most creative players at the Emirates. Even if he's not the sort of player Emery likes it would be worth giving him more chances to see whether he can adapt or even play well despite not fitting into the playing style.
Another train of thought is that Arsenal should sell Ozil to free up some money to bring in players Emery will use regularly. It would be hard to find a buyer for Ozil considering his £350,000 a week wages and Arsenal trapped themselves in some regards when they gave him a new contract last year.
It is clear that Ozil doesn't fit into Emery's playing style and hasn't been impressing his manager enough. However, since it is difficult to offload Ozil and he is too expensive not to use then for now Emery should be trying to make it work with his highest paid player. There comes a point where you have to use him because on some level you need him.