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Lee Dixon believes Mesut Ozil became a ‘problem’ after signing a bumper new contract at Arsenal.
Ozil, who agreed to a new deal with the Gunners last February, is the club’s top earner on £350,000-a-week but the 30-year-old midfielder has been in and out of Unai Emery’s side this season.
The playmaker scored Arsenal’s opening goal in a 5-1 victory over Bournemouth in but was dropped for the north London derby, making only a substitute appearance in a 1-1 draw away to Tottenham.
Since then, however, Ozil has started Arsenal’s last two games, in the Europa League vs Rennes and the Premier League vs Manchester United.
While Dixon acknowledges that Ozil is still capable of providing that much-needed X factor from midfield, he believes the German lost his ‘drive’ and ‘hunger’ after signing a new deal.
‘Signing him up on a big deal was seen as a must not to lose him. But the character of the player has to be taken into consideration,’ Dixon told The Sun.
‘When you give somebody that amount of money it probably wouldn’t affect some players. But it looks as if it has softened him.
‘He doesn’t look driven, he doesn’t look hungry, and when that happens you have a problem.
‘You need Ozil firing as well as the ability of the team to carry him at times when he is not quite functioning.
‘There is no doubt that the team needs a player like Ozil playing at his best.
‘Even an Ozil not quite at his best because the creativity that seems to be lacking from that midfield area, from the No.10 area, stands out a mile.’
Dixon applauded Emery for how he has dealt with Ozil since taking over the reins from Arsene Wenger last summer.
‘Emery has played it really well. He has inherited a problem that, as the manager, he sees fit to deal with it the way he has done,’ Dixon added.
‘The manager has to be in control. Once the control starts to ebb away not only do you get into a fight with the player but you also affect the dressing room.
‘There has to be a policing of that dressing room from the manager and from the inside.
‘If you get one that policies itself, it takes a lot of pressure off the manager, it also sees everyone take accountability and responsibility for each other.
‘He has let himself down over this period of time.
‘If he was in a dressing room I played in, there would have been a sit-down chat and a talking from inside.’