Arsene Wenger has handed Mikel Arteta some advice over how he handed ‘sensitive’ Mesut Ozil during his time as Arsenal manager.
Arteta is facing calls to bring Ozil back into his squad in the new year, with the Gunners suffering from a lack of creativity having slumped to 15th place in the table.
The £350,000-per-week midfielder has not played for Arsenal since March and was left out of Arteta’s Premier League and Europa League squads for the first half of the season.
He has drawn criticism for his lack of work rate – but legendary Gunners boss Wenger says a player like Ozil has to be handled carefully, with a trade-off to be expected between effort and creativity.
Wenger brought Ozil to Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013 for a then club-record £42million, and he refuted suggestions the 32-year-old could be a problem in the dressing room.
“He was not difficult to manage,” Wenger said to ESPN’s Caught Offside podcast. “He was a guy who had a special quality as a creative player and needed to have fun.
“He is an artist and these guys are a bit more sensitive.
“They need support and an environment that pushes them to give their best.”
Wenger added: “You have two ways to see a football team.
“You get everybody to do the same – the same intensity of work, the same defensive work – or you find a compromise.
“You have a more creative player in the team who can do less defensive work but you build a team around him who can compensate for these deficiencies.
“That is what you have to think about.”
An alternative option is that Arsenal could try to cash in on Ozil in the January transfer window before his contract expires in the summer.
The playmaker has been linked with teams in Turkey, where he has family connections, as well as a move to Major League Soccer in the US.
Arsenal face Burnley on Sunday in desperate need of a win, having lost three of their last four Premier League games and drawn the other. They have scored just one goal in those four games.
Arteta’s side have lost six of their opening 11 league games of the season in all.