Mesut Ozil must be drafted back into Arsenal’s starting line-up if they are to finish in the top four, according to Tim Sherwood.
The German midfielder has started only one Premier League game since Boxing Day, and barely a year after signing a new £350,000-a-week, five-year deal to stay at the Emirates, looks unlikely to force his way into Unai Emery’s plans any time soon.
But Sherwood told The Debate Arsenal can not afford to leave out a player with the talent of the World Cup winner and former Real Madrid regular if they have genuine ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League this season.
He said: “He can’t do anything right in Unai Emery’s mind at the moment. For me, he has to play. I would play him. I’d get the best out of him because of what they have at their disposal.
“I don’t think they’ve got the quality of Mesut Ozil. He needs to play and it’s up to the manager to get the best out of him. You’re paying him £350,000 a week, to do what? To do nothing. It’s a glorified Fitness First. It’s no good.
“They need to get him on the pitch and playing for Arsenal because it’s their only chance of getting towards the top four.”
Fellow guest Steve McMahon agreed with Sherwood’s sentiment, but pointed the finger of blame at Emery, whose relationship with Ozil has come under the microscope since the opening months of his reign at the Emirates.
Even in August, after only his third league game in charge, rumours of a rift between the pair began to emerge when he was left out of their 3-1 win over West Ham.
McMahon said: “When you’ve got world-class players, which undoubtedly he is, you have to play him and find a way to get the best out of him. That’s why you’re the manager, that’s why Jose Mourinho was sacked for not getting the best out of the Manchester United players.
“£350,000 a week? I’ve got to get the best out of you. And that’s your job. You can’t just say he wasn’t my signing and palm it off onto Wenger, you have to deal with it.”