Arsene Wenger: Mesut Ozil had a jaded period but he will be Player of the Season... next season
£42.5m record signing returns to the Gunners squad for Sunday's trip to Hull
Thursday 17 April 2014
Arsène Wenger has admitted that his record signing Mesut Özil has struggled with the ferocity of the Premier League since joining Arsenal, but believes fans will see the real deal next season.
Wenger hopes to welcome Özil back into the team on Sunday for the trip to Hull City after five weeks out with a hamstring injury. And while the German could yet make an impact over the final weeks of the season, it was what he could contribute next season that really excited Wenger.
"He is a fantastic football player," Wenger said of Özil, the man he paid £42.5 million for last summer and of whom he remains fiercely supportive. "I would put him on the list to be player of the season next season."
His first campaign in England has produced some mixed results, with some brilliant performances but also plenty of quiet ones and a few times where he simply did not look ready for the physical demands of the English game.
Wenger, though, knows a fair bit about helping talented players adjust and he predicted bigger and better things in 2014-15. "The first season is the season in which you adapt and then you know what will happen," he said. "And I believe that he will know better his partners, he will know the league better and the potential is absolutely fantastic."
Arsenal have missed Özil recently, playing with none of the pace or wit that he brings to the team. Had he been fit to face West Ham on Tuesday, he would have been Arsenal's youngest – and fastest – outfield player, but he was not.
"He is a quick player, and agile," Wenger said. "He can get out of tight situations. Players can open up to do something interesting in behind, so when he is not there, you get out of the situation and lose the ball."
Özil's struggles at Arsenal are primarily down to the radical change of context that he underwent on deadline day. The Premier League is more competitive than La Liga, and Özil has more individual responsibility at Arsenal as well. He is the star of the show here, in a way he was not in Spain.
"He has gone through a difficult spell," admitted Wenger, "because physically he was not as present as you would expect him to be. He had no real preparation and had a period where he was tired because he was not used to playing [right] through the season.
"He felt the difference between Spain and here. Sometimes he was rested there because in Spain, when you are 2-0 up –when Real Madrid are 2-0 up – what strikes him is that the teams give up. They know they will lose the game.
"Mesut said what is the most difficult for him here is that 2-0 up, the teams fight like mad to come back. And that was the main difference – you have to fight until the last second of the game."
Latest in Sport
Phil Jagielka: I may never win back England place, says Everton defender
Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
Rio Ferdinand mocks Jamie Carragher's Liverpudlian accent... but Liverpool man hits back at Londoner
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Comment: Alan Pardew is just a stooge for Mike Ashley who runs Newcastle like his shops – cheap foreign imports and a tame manager
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God