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12-Nov-2020, 03:04 am

'Who sorted Ozil's contract?' - Arsenal have to 'get rid' of 'expensive' midfielder, says ex-Gunners manager Graham

Mesut Ozil Arsenal 2019-20

George Graham has criticisedArsenal for their handling of Mesut Ozil's contract, while admitting the club now have no choice but to "get rid" of the "expensive" midfielder.

Ozil became the highest-paid player at Arsenal when he committed to a three-year extension worth £350,000 per week in January 2018.

The 32-year-old was a key member of Arsene Wenger's squad at the time, but quickly fell down the squad pecking order following the Frenchman's departure that summer.

Unai Emery only usedthe ex-Germany international sparingly amid concerns over his fitness and commitment levels, with his rigid 4-2-3-1 set-uprequiring the players to take up more disciplined roles with a focus on defending and attacking as a team.

Unfortunately, the Spanish head coach was never quite able to get his philosophy across at Emirates Stadium, and he was sacked in November 2019 following a dismal run of results.

Arteta was drafted in as his replacement a month later, and one of his first actions was to restore Ozil to the first team, which led to an upturn in fortunes prior to the coronavirus enforced break in the season.

Few could have predicted that the experienced playmaker's last appearance of the yearfor the Gunners would be in a 1-0 win over West Ham on March 7, but he no longer enjoyed the full confidence of his manager when the campaign was cleared to resume in June.

Ozil has not seen a single minute of action for Arsenal this termand was left out of Arteta's latest Premier League and Europa League squads, with his position unlikely to change before his current deal expires next summer.

Graham cannot understand why he was given such a lucrative contract in the first place, and says that even if the club are able to get him off their books in 2021, they will still have to pay a high price for their mistake.

“It’s very difficult. The first thing you say is, ‘who is the person who sorted the contract?" the former Gunners boss told talkSPORT.

“Did the rest of the board see that contract and agree to it? That was a bad decision. We’ve got to try and get rid of him and pay half his wages if he goes to another club, but even then it’s too expensive."

Graham added on Ozil being the wrong fit for Arteta's set-up:“He’s got to be in a team that’s dominating games and he’s got to be on the ball as much as possible.

“Without the ball,just no. He is definitely lacking, not even at the top level. Without the ball he’s not good enough. With the ball he can be good enough, but he has to be in a good team.

“He was up and down like a yo-yo underArsene Wenger. He obviously isn’t playing into the new manager’s style. You play when you’ve got the ball but you also play when you haven’t got possession. He’s just not up to the standard that Arteta wants.”

The ex-Arsenal chief went on to praise Arteta for the impact he's had at the Emirates over the past year, highlighting his strong defensive tactics and the smart moves he's made in the transfer market.

“I’m very pleased with what he’s done recently,” said Graham. “He’s already won cups and he’s only been there two minutes. I like the way he’s trying to play out a bit more. I was very strong defensively and it worked for me. We won a lot of games by the odd goal.

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