Aitor Karanka: ‘Mesut Ozil can be become one of the world’s best, I hope Arsenal rest him on Sunday’
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka has praised Mesut Ozil, ahead of his teams visit to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal in the FA Cup 5th round on Sunday.
Karanka worked with Ozil during his time as Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid, so is well placed to comment on Arsenal’s record signing.
“Mesut is a very good lad,” said Karanka.
“I spent three seasons with him in Madrid. He’s an amazing player and I hope on Sunday he’s not on his best game.
“Unfortunately for us, Mesut is playing at his best right now but I think he will be thinking about the league and he can rest on Sunday.”
Ozil scored the goal to put the Gunners ahead at Spurs last week in the crunch north London derby and has looked back to his i
“I had, and still have, a very good relationship with him (Ozil),” Karanka told Middlesbrough’s official website.
“He’s a very good lad and I’m very happy when I see him playing to his strengths. He can be one of the best in the world – his left foot is amazing.
“He needs a manager who puts pressure on him because he’s the kind of player who is maybe a little bit relaxed when the manager is not behind him. But with us at Madrid he was perfect because Jose was always behind him.”
Karanka is also a big fan of Santi Cazorla.
“I love Santi and I’ve known him for a long time,” said Karanka.
“He’s an amazing player but they have a lot of great players.
“Santi Cazorla had everything. I think he’s one of the best technical players in the world.
“You don’t know if he’s left or right-footed and he has a perfect understanding of the game.”
Middlesbrough arrive having gone top of the Championship table with their win at Blackpool on Tuesday night.
They also knocked Manchester City out in the last round of the FA Cup, with a 2-0 win at the Etihad.
Arsene Wenger is aware of the dangers Boro will pose, saying in his pre-match press conference this morning: “They are well organised, play good football and they are very creative.”