The former Gunners manager claims the club is paying the price for handing a lucrative three-season contract to the former Germany international two years ago.
George Graham blamed Arsenal for handling the contract of Mesut Ozil, while acknowledging that the club now has no option but to “get rid” of the “expensive” midfielder.
When he agreed in January 2018 to a three-year contract worth £ 350,000 per week, Ozil became the highest-paid player at Arsenal.
The 32-year-old was a key member of Arsene Wenger’s squad at the time, but after the Frenchman’s exit that summer, the squad pecking order rapidly dropped down.
With his strict 4-2-3-1 set-up requiring the players to take on more disciplined positions with an emphasis on defending and attacking as a squad, Unai Emery only used the former Germany international sparingly in the face of questions about his fitness and engagement rate.
Unfortunately, at Emirates Stadium, the Spanish head coach was never quite able to get his theory across, and he was sacked after a dismal string of results in November 2019.
A month later, Arteta was brought in as his replacement, and one of his first acts was to return Ozil to the first team , leading to an upturn in fortunes prior to the season’s enforced coronavirus break.
Few could have expected that on March 7, the seasoned playmaker’s last game of the year for the Gunners would be in a 1-0 victory over West Ham, but when the campaign was cleared to start in June, he no longer enjoyed the full confidence of his boss.
This term, Ozil has not seen a single minute of action for Arsenal and was left out of Arteta’s most recent Premier League and Europa League squads, with his status unlikely to change before next summer’s current contract expires.
Graham is unable to understand why, in the first place, he was offered such a lucrative deal, and claims that even though the club can get him off their books in 2021, they will still have to pay a high price for their mistake.
“It is really complicated. The first thing you’re asking is, ‘who’s the guy who settled the contract? “The former manager of the Gunners told talkSPORT.
“Did the rest of the board see the offer and agree to it? That was a poor move. If he moves to another club, we have to try and get rid of him and pay half his salary, but it’s too costly even then.”
“Graham added that Ozil was the wrong fit for the set-up of Arteta:” He has to be in a squad that dominates games and he has to be on the ball as much as possible.
Arteta was praised by the former Arsenal manager for the impact he had on the Emirates over the past year, highlighting his powerful defensive tactics and the insightful movements he has made in the transfer sector.
‘I am quite pleased with what he has recently done,’ Graham said. He’s won cups already, and he’s only been there for two minutes. I like the way he wants to play it out a little bit more. Defensively, I was really powerful and it worked for me. We’ve won a lot of matches with an unusual goal.
“The way they play under Arteta, I like it. A very good midfield player [Thomas Partey] and a defender [Gabriel] from Brazil were brought in by him. It seems to me that he is investing his money very well, which is not a lot.