Arsene Wenger has called on Mesut Ozil to be the leader of his new Arsenal generation.
With Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud all departing for pastures new during the January transfer window, Ozil bucked the trend by signing a new three-year deal.
The German World Cup winner is reportedly being paid £350,000-a-week at the Emirates Stadium – a record wage for an Arsenal player.
He is expected to line up with Henrikh Mkhitaryan – who joined from Manchester United in a swap deal for Sanchez – and summer signing Alexandre Lacazette when Everton visit on Saturday.
There could also be space in the side for club-record acquisition Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who came in on deadline day from Borussia Dortmund.
Aubameyang is more likely to start on the bench given his recent arrival and a bout of illness but Wenger – despite seeing his top goalscorers from the past five seasons depart – maintains an embarrassment of attacking riches.
Now the Frenchman wants to see Ozil, signed from Real Madrid for a fee now eclipsed by both Lacazette and Aubameyang, take control of the group.
“Many predicted that he will not commit and not sign for us,” Wenger said of Ozil signing a new deal.
“When you look at the transfer market today, the fact that you can keep a player of that calibre is of course good news.
“The fact that he committed for a longer period shows as well that he will have to do that as well on the pitch and lead the team.
“It means he will be the technical leader of the team. Physically he is much stronger than people think. His distances are quite good. He can run. He is not a tackler. When he is angry he can.”
Ozil could have left for free in the summer as his previous deal expired but, unlike Sanchez who was in the same position, he has stayed put.
Despite a seemingly huge leap in what Arsenal will now pay in wages, Wenger believes Ozil was the “cheapest” option as he would have had to spend a big fee, and a large wage, to sign a suitable replacement if the 29-year-old walked away for nothing.
“When you let a player go you have to buy somebody of the same calibre and if you add the transfer needed and the wages will be similar,” he added.
“On top of that we have to pay a transfer. So overall I think Mesut for us was the cheapest option. On the other side all of our players are well paid. Very well paid. To feel sorry for them – I’m not sure that it’s the most objective assessment.”
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