Arsene Wenger compared the quiet temperament of star playmaker Mesut Ozil to club legend Dennis Bergkamp on Saturday. The Arsenal manager also praised the Germany international's calming influence on the dressing room.
Speaking ahead of the Gunners' Premier League clash with last season's champions, Chelsea, Wenger made the comparison between Ozil and ice-cool Dutch creator Bergkamp, per Rob Kelly of Chelsea.com: “Yes, he's a bit like [Bergkamp]. Not that guy who stands up and speaks too much but every time he says something, it is straight to the point."
Despite Ozil's quiet demeanour, Wenger insisted he has a significant and positive influence on his title-chasing team-mates: "He has a big influence. He's not an extrovert, as you know. But you don't win by coincidence and he has won in his career. He's demanding from his partners."
The comparisons between Ozil and Bergkamp have been inevitable and common since Wenger acquired the mercurial schemer from Real Madrid for a club-record £42.4 million in 2013.
In late December, Wenger favourably compared both men's playing styles, according to John Cross of the Daily Mirror: “Bergkamp was more goalscorer than him and he was more of an assists man, but now he becomes more of a goalscorer so they really are comparable."
It's a fair comparison, considering the incredible influence both men have exerted for various Arsenal teams on Wenger's watch. For years, Bergkamp was the brain of talent-laden and trophy-chasing Gunners squads.
The Dutch No. 10 was the one player who embodied the essence of Wenger's philosophy. He was a cerebral and efficient provider of chances, a forward who operated between the lines with an innate knack for spotting and releasing runners behind a defence.
Ozil has become that player for this year's Arsenal squad. His vision and technique with the ball at his feet are essential to the way the team plays.
The numbers back up his importance, especially the 16 Premier League assists the precocious pass master has provided, per WhoScored.com.
But for Ozil to emulate Bergkamp, he'll have to deliver a league title the way the one-time Ajax star did in the 1997/98 double-winning campaign. He did it again in 2001/02, another double-winning season during which Bergkamp made vital contributions.
Writing for the Daily Mail, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher stated his belief that no one should compare Ozil to Bergkamp until he wins a league crown. That's a distinct possibility with the Gunners jut three points adrift of leaders Leicester City.
Like Bergkamp, Ozil is now the calm amid the storm, the maestro who can conduct the pace of play to his liking and turn games in Arsenal's favour. If his quiet authority rubs off on his team-mates, Ozil will help Wenger lift his first league title since 2004.
Then those Bergkamp comparisons will be more apt.