Michael Ballack told The Express he feels Mesut Ozil has lost the spark to his game in recent weeks due to the lack of a Winter break in England.
He stated: "When Ozil first arrived, he wanted the ball so much. But he is not used to playing through the winter without a break like you do in England. It can be hard to adapt.
“Its new for him. But he may need a while to come back into full shape. If you only lose 10 per cent it can really affect your performance.
“He is tired but the expectation is so high. He should be one of the leaders of the team. He cost so much and that also means pressure to perform week in and week out."
It is not unusual for players to struggle for consistency in their first season in the Premier League, but there are exceptions - Sergio Aguero at Manchester City for example.
Ballack's 'excuse' regarding a lack of a Winter break for Ozil may just be wide of the mark however - as he did have a mini-break of his own due to injury.
Ozil played 81 minutes in the Boxing Day win over West Ham, but then missed the next two fixtures against Newcastle United and Cardiff City with a minor injury.
He then played just 15 minutes as a late substitute in the FA Cup win over Tottenham; this meant by time he made his next start against Aston Villa in the Premier League - the German had gone 18 days without starting for the Gunners, surely enough to recharge his batteries.
During this time he also was permitted to head to Morocco with his girlfriend for a short holiday, rather than training intensely.
Ozil, who has just one assist in his past 10 games and no goals, even said ahead of the festive fixtures he was looking forward to the challenge: "I'm a person who prefers to play games rather than train. I don't know how it will be to play over Christmas and the new year, as I'm used to having the winter break; one or even two weeks off but I'm looking forward to it."
Ballack's assertions about Ozil having to adapt are certainly correct, but blaming his form on the lack of a Winter break, when he did indeed get one, appears to be misjudged.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald