Former Arsenal assistant manager Freddie Ljungberg believes there is still a place for Mesut Ozil in Mikel Arteta ’s side – despite the German being left out of his Premier League and Europa League squads this season.
Ozil has been frozen out by Arteta in north London, not making a competitive appearance for the Gunners since March and failing to make it into their two 25-man squads for the 2020/21 campaign.
The 32-year-old, who remains the club’s top earner on a staggering £350,000 per week, is therefore likely to call time on his seven-year stay at the Emirates either in January or next summer.
But Ljungberg insists Ozil can still be of use to Arteta, highlighting his unique quality of unlocking defences.
“Mesut is a great football player, we know that,” he told The Athletic.
“We all have different opinions and everybody needs to accept that people have different opinions.
“What I tried to do, what I believed in, was that when you play teams who, on paper, you're a bigger club than or you think they'll have a low block and you need someone to unlock it, Mesut has the total quality to do that.
“I think there is a space for a player like that in those kind of games.”
Ljungberg was placed in temporary charge of Arsenal before Arteta took the reins last year, briefly replacing Unai Emery when the Spaniard was sacked as manager.
During that interim stint, the former Gunners star tried to make the most of Ozil’s creative qualities.
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He continued: “When I was interim coach, I would play [Ozil] in the games when I thought he could unlock defences, even if I knew his defensive job was not as good as some other players.
“So that's my opinion; there should be a space in certain games.”
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