Arsene Wenger has told Mesut Ozil he must commit to Arsenal long-term if he is to be appreciated by the club’s supporters in the same way as Dennis Bergkamp.
Ozil is Arsenal’s record signing having joined the Gunners from Real Madrid in 2013 for a fee reported to be in excess of £40million.
Since then the German World Cup winner has dazzled fans and opposition alike with his languid style, and his winning goal against Ludogorets on Tuesday night which saw Arsenal qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League for a 17th successive season was testament to his obvious ability.
Wenger will now be looking to the 28-year-old to come up with similar goods when Arsenal host fierce local rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday to increase his standing with the club’s fan-base further still.
But the Frenchman also warned that Ozil, whose contract expires in the summer of 2018 with a new deal up for discussion for some time, needs to remain at the club if he wants to be spoken of in the same breath as players such as Bergkamp.
“There are similarities,” Wenger replied when asked if he would compare Ozil to the Dutchman who spent over a decade at Arsenal, winning three Premier League titles and playing his part in the unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ season.
And when pushed on whether Ozil could be seen in a similar light, the 67-year-old said: “I think so, I think if he commits.
“Dennis Bergkamp committed for a long period, played until he was 38. I wish we have 10 more years of Ozil. That depends. To become a legend at the club you need to stay for a long time.
“I understand that being a legend like Dennis Bergkamp, if you stay two years you would not be a legend.”
Wenger confirmed the club are “working on” a new deal for Ozil, who he thinks has now fully-adapted to the high intensity of the Premier League.
“I believe he is at an age where he is more mature,” he added.
“He is 28. The difference today is he focuses more on efficiency. When he arrived here he was more a player to play, focused on playing. Today efficiency is more in his mind.
“The main transformation we got from him, he makes more runs in behind to score goals.
“He pushes himself much more. He has that in him as well. Sometimes the trap for very talented players is it is easy for them. They know subconsciously they don’t need to push themselves too hard to be efficient.”
Asked if the Premier League was a shock for Ozil when he first arrived, Wenger said: “A little bit, yes.
“But he’s a player who left some people sceptical but every time you look at the game again and he had the ball more, made something intelligent happened and I was always supportive of him.
“What you want from him is that he continues to play like he does at the moment.
“That means make thee runs like he did in Sofia on Tuesday but of course he can be dangerous but in big games there is always a lot of expectation from him.”