Paul Merson believes that Mesut Ozil is a significant factor in why Arsenal are struggling to secure a contract renewal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gunners have faced troubles over new deals for some time, dating back to Robin van Persie and the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey since.
Now, they face a similar scenario with their prolific captain edging ever closer to the final 12 months of his current contract.
In an ideal world, they won’t be forced to sell this summer to avoid losing him for free next summer, and on top of that, they’ll be desperate to see him put pen-to-paper on a new deal to commit his long-term future to the club.
However, it may not be that straight-forward given their inability to guarantee Champions League football next season, as they continue to struggle to break back into the top four in the Premier League, let alone challenge for the title.
Further, Merson believes that Ozil is indirectly causing a problem in Aubameyang’s contract situation too given his high wages.
“It would be a major disaster for Arsenal if they lost Aubameyang, however, the decision will be weighed up and at least it will be the club’s decision as to what they do,” he told Sky Sports. “Do they give him £300,000-a-week? I’ve always said they will have a problem until Mesut Ozil leaves the club. Every day he’s there, every other top player will want what he’s on. It’s a huge problem and not a new one.
“There’s also the danger of giving him big money, just like they did with Ozil, and then every other player wanting the same. It would take you straight back to the Ozil scenario and if you do spend all that money on him and you don’t get into the top four it’s not money well spent.
“It’s a really hard decision and it will all come down to how the club weigh it up.”
It seems a little unfair to drag Ozil into the equation to an extent, but it’s understandable in terms of what Merson believes is the indirect influence involved.
Given the quality and impact that Aubameyang continues to make for the Gunners, it seems unthinkable that they would let him leave without trying all they can to convince him to sign a new deal.
However, the threat of losing him for nothing or perhaps well below his valuation in January if he doesn’t extend his stay means that they may be forced into selling this summer, and in turn they could use those funds to reinvest back into the squad to fill the void he would leave behind.
It’s a difficult situation to be in, and Merson seemingly believes that Ozil is having a negative impact on the situation by setting the precedent with his big-money contract.