Nomination for awards makes players focus on personal success, Wenger declares
Arsene Wenger has again underlined his disdain for the Ballon d’Or by claiming Mesut Ozil’s inclusion on the 2016 shortlist was a “big satisfaction” – even though the Germany international was not among the nominees
The Arsenal manager has repeatedly questioned the merits of individual awards, claiming that they subvert the importance of a team ethic in football as they encourage players to focus on their solo achievements.
And the 67-year-old appears to have made his view of France Football’s prize abundantly clear on Friday, when he praised Ozil for making the 30-man list even though the former Real Madrid playmaker was not included.
When asked by one reporter – who likewise seemed unaware of the error – for his opinion on Ozil’s inclusion and whether he would congratulate the player, he said: “Yes, it’s a big satisfaction for him and us as well, but I’m against it.
“It gets in the head of players, you see people think only of themselves because they are obsessed by the Ballon d’Or and not the team.
“Football is a collective sport. We want to respect what it’s about, which is the team effort.
“I encourage and congratulate the players who do well but when you look at the history, you don’t think it’s always been the most objective decision. We know all about the players who are the best.”
The future of Ozil has been the subject of a more concrete debate in recent weeks, as protracted talks over a new contract at the Emirates Stadium continue.
Wenger said there was no definitive update on a new deal for the 28-year-old but stressed his confidence that an agreement would be reached.
Asked for an update on the talks, he said: “Nothing really concrete enough to talk about. It’s moving along.”
Arsenal visit Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.
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