Martin Keown has provided a scathing assessment of Mesut Ozil's current tenure at Arsenal, claiming that the oft-maligned playmaker has "downed tools" and psychologically has already left the club.
Ozil has been no stranger to criticism during his four-year stint at Arsenal to date and speculation over his future has ramped up over recent weeks, with former Real Madrid manager and current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said to be interested in signing a player whose current contract is due to expire in June 2018. Serie A outfit Inter Milan are also believed to be keen on a deal.
It has been reported that the Gunners could be willing to cash in on the German international when the transfer window re-opens for business in January rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer.
The Mirror understand that there has been little progress with regards to the latest contract negotiations, with Arsenal unwilling to cave in to wage demands of around £350,000-a-week ($461,165).
Ozil has made only five appearances so far this season after suffering from minor knee inflammation, with Arsene Wenger claiming before last weekend's 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion that the 28-year-old's issue was "very short-term". He was not called up by Germany for 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan.
Discussing Ozil during an appearance on BBC 5 Live Sport on Wednesday evening (4 October), former Arsenal stalwart Keown said: "I think he's testing Wenger more than any other player has.
"Was it Belarus they went to last week [for a Europa League match against BATE Borisov]? He didn't fancy going, he didn't want to go. Suddenly he was injured again. He played nine minutes against West Bromwich Albion on the Monday, so how did he get injured there?
"I think in some departments he's already left. Psychologically, mentally he's already left the football club and maybe Wenger now is trying to do the best deal he can to let the player go in January and get some compensation for him."
Pressed if selling Ozil in January would be the correct thing to do, Keown, who also described Arsenal's Ozil-less performance against Chelsea last month as one of their best for a couple of years, replied: "I think so. I think he doesn't want that type of player around the youngsters, in the group."
Keown also pointed out what he evidently sees as a stark contrast in mentality between Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, who is also out of contract next summer. He lastly used Andrey Arshavin's underwhelming stint at the Emirates Stadium between 2009-13 as a warning that Wenger usually comes out on top in these sorts of situations.
"Sanchez [is] different, he loves playing football," he added. "Just give him a ball and he'll play, that's all he wants to do. But Ozil, I think he's downed tools. He wants to go and it's going to get messy.
"He's putting himself through a difficult period, Ozil. We don't know if he's injured or not, only he will really know. But if he's playing that game, he's not going to win that with Wenger."