Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has launched to the defence of Unai Emery and described the situation with Mesut Ozil as untenable.
The ex-England international believes that the German midfielder has become a problem due to both the fanbase he commands and the staggering wages he received when he signed his new deal last January.
The Sky Sports pundit suggested that Emery has tested Ozil multiple times this season, and notes that the number of appearances the 30-year-old has made this season, 13 in the Premier League, tells it’s own story.
Carragher said in his Telegraph column: Ozil has become a problem. Emery has tested Ozil on numerous occasions and the reaction can be measured in this season’s appearance record.
When Ozil has been on the end of a strong decision from Emery – there is a trend of him being unavailable the next game, sometimes through injury and other times for what are described as ‘tactical reasons’.
With such a powerful, well-paid and popular player who Arsenal tend to win more without, and a player adept at winning support and sympathy from supporters on social media – this has become an untenable situation.
But who would pay Ozil his Arsenal salary? What can Emery do? It’s all well and good saying he must do everything to get a tune out of Özil, but the manager must look strong to send a message to the rest of the squad.
Carragher further expressed a significant amount of sympathy for Emery, particularly in Arsenal’s limited budget for the January transfer window and questioned the money Ozil was awarded.
He said: “The board must have known a year ago that Wenger’s long-term position was insecure. It is inconceivable high level discussions did not float the idea of replacing him when they headed into the January 2018 transfer window.
In those circumstances – in the knowledge the budget would be so stretched as a consequence – how could they sanction a £350,000 per week contract for Mesut Özil? Surely they needed to be sure the next manager valued Özil as much as Wenger?
Similarly, which voices were most persuasive when signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, recruited on massive contracts? Alongside Özil’s extraordinary salary, those deals denied Wenger’s successor a significant budget. That is why Emery has gone public to reveal he is operating in the loan market – an unbelievable situation for a club of Arsenal’s stature.
“These financial constraints come at the wrong time because Arsenal’s squad lacks depth, quality and balance.”