Freddie Ljungberg takes Mesut Ozil’s side in Arsenal axing by Mikel Arteta
Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg believes Mesut Ozil should still be involved at the Emirates, despite Mikel Arteta axing the midfielder from their Premier League and Europa League squads.
Ozil’s time at Arsenal appears to be up, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, but Ljungberg feels there “should be a space” for the 31-year-old.
Ljungberg took charge of six games as the Gunners’ interim manager and Ozil featured in four of those.
Speaking to the Athletic, Ljungberg gave his take on Ozil’s omission, saying: “Mesut is a great football player, we know that. We all have different opinions and everybody needs to accept that people have different opinions.
“For me, maybe the way football has gone now sometimes he’s not as athletic defensively. Let’s say when you play Man City you don’t have the ball and need to just run after them, maybe you need more athletic players.
“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 kinds of games.
“But then as well you need to have a communication with the player — not just Mesut, every player. Different games suit certain players and other games suit others.
“The days of playing every single minute of every game maybe are just not happening that often anymore. When I left in the summer he was in the squads and now he’s not. What’s happened there, I can’t answer.
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“I don’t know if something else has happened, I have no clue. But if you look at pure football qualities, I think my answer is quite obvious.
“When I was interim coach, I would play him 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.”