Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal’s three World Cup winners Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski will miss the start of the Premier League season and probably the crucial Champions League playoff tie.
The three players will even return to training until Aug. 11, which is just five days before Crystal Palace visits for the teams’ Premier League campaign kickoff. That return date means that will certainly miss the Community Shield match against Manchester City on Aug. 10, though Wenger hasn’t ruled out Mertesacker for the Champions League two-legged qualifier following the Palace date.
“I have a decision to make, do I bring them early and play them straight away and lose them in October or November or do I give them the needed rest to recover and get the hunger back?” said Wenger.
“So I have chosen the second solution knowing that it is a bit risky because on top of that we have the qualifier for the Champions League group stage and they might not be ready for that.”
Wenger admits that is a difficult balance to achieve between the team getting off to a slow start and the players need to rest and recover after the World Cup.
“The distance between the final of the World Cup and the start of the Premier League is too short,” said Wenger. “And that is why it is very difficult to predict how everyone will cope with that because the preparation time is too short and the rest time is too short.”
“A guy who is coming off a high of winning the World Cup, you can not ask him three weeks later to fight for his life when you are going to Swansea or to Stoke, it takes some time to recover.”
The late return will also impact Arsenal’s transfer dealings. Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has been linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, but Arsenal will not let him go before Mertesacker gets back because he cannot start the season with just one recognized center half.