Arsène Wenger: Mesut Özil standoff could work in Arsenal’s favour


Arsène Wenger has predicted it will become increasingly normal for players to run down their contracts, as he suggested Mesut Özil was doing at Arsenal, and he believes it may have the short‑term benefit of driving an uplift in their performances.

Özil has entered the final year on his contract and Wenger did the numbers to explain why the midfielder had not and, most likely, would not agree a new deal – at least, not any time soon.

However, the manager said he was relaxed about it, going so far as to say “it doesn’t matter” if Özil were to leave. Wenger even described the situation as being “ideal” because, more than anything, Özil would have to play well – if only to impress his potential suitors.

Wenger has a number of players in the final year of their contracts, including Alexis Sánchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sánchez wants to leave, with Manchester City his destination of choice. His situation differs from that of Özil in that he has elite-level clubs who want to sign him.

Sánchez is still in Chile, as he recovers from a bout of flu, after his extended leave following his involvement at the Confederations Cup. Wenger said the forward would fly to London on Monday night.

Wenger was asked whether he was happy to allow Özil to go into his final year. “Yes,” he replied. “I think in the future, you will see it more and more. Why? Because the transfers are so high [in financial terms], even for normal players. You will see more and more players going into the final year of the contract because no club will want to pay the amount demanded. I’m convinced, in the next 10 years, it will become usual.

“It’s not an issue. I think it’s an ideal situation. Why? Because everyone has to perform. When you’re a football player, you perform until the last day of your contract. Whether you have two or one year left, it doesn’t change. You want to play and do well. Do you really think they sit in the dressing room and think: ‘Oh, I have one year to go, I will not play well today.’ When you are a football player, you want to play well. What does that have to do with the length of your contract? It’s amazing.”

It was put to Wenger that when players ran down their contracts, it was usually on the premise that they would leave – usually, as free agents, with the club receiving nothing in transfer fees. “Even if that happens, it doesn’t matter,” Wenger said. “You do well [in] what you do. I am amazed that you are surprised by that. It looks normal to me.”