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Friday 20 September 2019

'We're talking about £500,000-a-week' - Ian Wright criticises Arsenal's high earners

Mesut Ozil watches on from the sideline
Mesut Ozil watches on from the sideline

Jack de Menezes

Arsenal great Ian Wright has criticised Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for not justifying their large pay packets, with the former striker calling for the club to invest the money in other players who provide a visible return.

Ozil is currently absent from the Arsenal team – and a doubt to face Manchester United on Wednesday – due to a back injury, with manager Unai Emery unable to call on the club's highest-paid player as they head into the busiest part of the season.

Mkhitaryan on the other hand is available, but Emery elected to take him off at half-time during Sunday's 4-2 victory over Tottenham as he looked to inject his side with more of an attacking threat – with Mkhitaryan's poor return of just two goals this season not going unnoticed.

With Ozil earning around £350,000-a-week and Mkhitaryan also a high-earner at the Emirates, Wright believes that Arsenal need to look at their futures and determine whether they are providing the required return on the expenditure.

"As good as Mkhitaryan and Ozil are, in respect to what they're earning we're talking about £500,000-a-week," Wright said on BBC Five Live on Tuesday night.

"I do not believe Arsenal can afford to be paying that sort of money without getting a return, especially when you look at what they're trying to do at the moment.

"You're going to lose [Aaron] Ramsey as well, who probably wants £200,000, so we're going up to £700,000-a-week in money that we're going to have to give.

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"Surely you've got to find three or four players that you can pay a lot of money to that will give you the output you want."

Wright has criticised 30-year-old Ozil in the past, particularly during the drawn out contract negotiations that led to his enormous £350,000-a-week deal that runs through to the summer of 2021.

Part of Wright's criticism has been Ozil's lack of big-game impacts, having been a bit-part player against their toughest opposition. The former Arsenal striker has now questioned whether Ozil has it in him to start contributing more than "just assists", having scored three times in the Premier League this season.

"The thing with him is, do you think he's someone that can adapt? He's an unbelievable player but can he do it? I don't know if he can," Wright added.

"I had Arsenal fans coming over to me saying he's had 19 assists. Thierry Henry had 20 assists and 30 odd goals – and he done it twice!

"Is that what we want, just assists? Is that what you're going to throw in my face? And a hat-trick against Ludogorets!"

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