Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere insists Mesut Ozil is not a lazy player despite his work-rate being a regular complaint against the playmaker.
Ozil’s career is set to end in the summer when his contract expires, concluding a mixed eight-year spell at the Emirates.
At his best, Ozil was one of Europe’s best creative players, consistently topping the charts at Arsenal but his shortcomings defensively were often used to criticise him.
After initially appearing to have a place in Mikel Arteta’s team at the start of the year, Ozil was left out of Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads.
Wilshere trained and played alongside Ozil for five years and knows better than most about the German’s game.
Speaking on The ITV Football Football Show podcast, Wilshere was asked if he was surprised by the Ozil situation and said: “Yeah, I am because I played with him.
“I used to love playing with him, really really enjoyed it. One of the best I’ve played with.
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“But there is obviously something we don’t know because a player of his quality I reckon he can get into any team in the Premier League.
“To not even have the opportunity to compete for a place is difficult to understand but there must be a reason.”
It was then suggested players of Ozil’s characteristics are dying out and Wilshere defended his former team-mate’s work rate.
“You look at the No 10s, a lot of them run in behind and do a lot work off the ball,” Wilshere added.
“Ozil did defend. There were a lot of shouts about him being lazy but I never found he was lazy.
“It is easy to say but if you looked at his stats after the game he wasnt at the bottom of it.
“He’s actually pretty quick, surprisingly.”