Football

Oezil: My future is tied to Wenger's

CRYSTAL PALACE ARSENAL

Mesut Oezil has indicated the future of Arsene Wenger remains critical to his own at Arsenal, saying he has a "super understanding" with the Frenchman.

Oezil will have only one year left on his contract come the summer, but has stalled on committing his future to the Gunners as Wenger's own status remains up in the air.

Wenger has been in charge of the club for more than 20 years, but is yet to accept the reported offer of a new contract for next season and beyond as recent results have left his proud record of qualifying for the Champions League every season in peril.

But World Cup winner Oezil said Wenger had been instrumental in persuading him to join Arsenal from Real Madrid, and suggested he was waiting to see how the manager's situation resolved itself before making any decision of his own.

"It's not just important for me but also for the whole club," Oezil told the Daily Mail.

"It's important to know if he stays or if he goes. We need to think towards next season.

"He's very important. In my career, I've always made decisions not just because of clubs but managers, too. As a footballer, it's important to have the manager's trust and believe they can develop you.

"When I went from Real to Arsenal, I came for him because I told him at the time he'd be my first option. That was the case. We still have a super understanding today.

WENGER DESERVES RESPECT

"I have his trust, he's a superb coach. He's been successful for many years, he's been here for 20 years and has always managed to get Arsenal to reach the Champions League, making Arsenal a big club. He deserves to be shown respect."

Oezil said he still believes Arsenal have the potential to win the Premier League - a title they last won in 2004 - as well as the Champions League under Wenger, but said the squad must be strengthened.

"The club know they need to strengthen," he said.

"But what's most important is the manager's opinion. He and the club will make the decision.

"When you look at our squad, it's not as broad as Bayern (Munich)'s or Real's. In the Champions League, that's not enough, especially against big teams, because they have more breadth in their squad."

Arsenal, who face Crystal Palace tomorrow morning (Singapore time), are seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with two games in hand.

Oezil said he had not considered how it would affect his thinking on a new contract if they miss out on the top four.

"I haven't thought about that. The club come first, not Mesut Oezil or anyone," he said.

"The team have the aim to reach the Champions League and I'll fight for that. In the summer, we have enough time to talk about the future.

"I'm very happy. I have a connection with the club. I love London, it's great to live here, but I can't say today what will happen in the future. In the summer, we'll definitely talk." - PA SPORT

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