Rio Ferdinand has challenge Mikel Arteta to make Mesut Ozil go back to his best days as a footballer with Real Madrid if they cannot sign Philippe Coutinho.
The Gunners have been linked with a move for the former Liverpool attacking midfielder, but there is competition for his signature and the Gunners may struggle to sign him if they don’t qualify for the Champions League.
Rio Ferdinand, however, thinks that it won’t be so bad if they fail to land Coutinho as they already have Mesut Ozil who just needs to work better.
He claimed that Arteta will have to insist that Ozil starts playing like he did at Real Madrid.
The former Manchester United defender used a story of a time that he played against Real Madrid for United and claimed that Ozil worked so hard in that game and gave Rafael who played at right-back the runaround.
“Arsenal, [Coutinho] obviously would definitely improve them, but where does he play in their system?” Ferdinand said as quoted by the Express.
“They’ve got Ozil, is he someone that they’d like to see replace Ozil? I don’t know.
“I like Ozil, if he’s played the right way in the right team, manager getting the most out of him.
“I just think back to when I played against Ozil when he was at Real Madrid in the Champions League and he played against a young Rafael right-back, Brazilian boy, who was tenacious, strong, aggressive, fast.
“Rafa won’t thank me for this but [Ozil] played that game and a couple of times he ran Rafa and I thought ‘I didn’t realise Ozil was that fast’.
“He worked back, he chased Rafa back, Rafa was running across the halfway line with the ball, he chased him back, he worked.
“When he got it he was elusive, his balance, his passing, playing it and running aggressively without the ball.
“I haven’t seen him play like that really for Arsenal. He plays different, he plays more calm and chilled and at a slower pace.
“But I know there’s something in there, I saw it, I witnessed it, I played against it, where he can up the tempo and he has got an engine.
“But it’s Mikel Arteta as the manager who’s got to demand it out of him.
“I remember Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo was not happy that he was leaving, I remember.
“Because of the assists he was providing, the opportunities and chances and goals for Cristiano and I remember he wasn’t happy.”