Mesut Özil: Diamond or Dud?

Mesut Ozil is a player who continues to divide opinion amongst Arsenal fans and viewers of the game in general. On his day he can be marvelous, a joy to behold and oozes class but since his arrival from Madrid in September 2013 the general opinion is that he tends to hide, disappear and go missing in the biggest of fixtures and when his team mates need him most.  Having played an instrumental part in Germany’s World Cup success back in 2014 you could argue that Ozil has already reached the pinnacle of the game and therefore a lack of motivation could be what’s holding him back.

Whether that is or isn’t the case we’ll never know for sure, he says all the right things and you’d have a hard time proving how motivated somebody is or isn’t.  All you can do is make judgment based on what you see and there won’t be a Gooner out there who can honestly say we’ve always managed to get the maximum out of Mesut when wearing the famous cannon on his chest.  The talent is there, that shouldn’t be disputed and in fairness to Özil criticism of his work rate is unjust.  The statistics prove it – he covers just as much ground as anybody else, if not more than most so what’s missing from his game?

Is it a lack of desire? Not for me; I find it almost impossible to believe a top level sportsman would be content with simply plodding along; collecting his/her pay cheque at the end of each month and accepting mediocrity but then again, Theo Walcott made it!  So what seems to be the issue?

Arsene Wenger’s management has seen many players regress over the past few seasons and Mesut Özil happens to be one of them.  Other examples include Hector Bellerin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi.  All of these players were given opportunities at a relatively young age, threatened to become world beaters in their respective positions yet every single one of them at some point or another, under Wenger’s leadership hit a brick wall in terms of their development.

Where the aforementioned cases differ to that of Mesut Ozil is that they were young fledglings looking spread their wings, make a name for themselves and were in need of a vastly experienced mentor and top quality management in order to maximize their potential. Mesut Ozil arrived at the Emirates Stadium as the ‘finished article’ meaning Arsene Wenger’s part to play in his career was a totally different but just as important one.

Mesut arrived in North London at a time where Arsene Wenger’s best days had long since passed him by.  His inability to find the correct balance in our midfield often left us exposed defensively and Özil to endure waves of unfair criticism as a result.  Not to mention the long periods our German playmaker spent operating from the right hand side, yet another Wenger masterstroke!  Mesut Özil has suffered a similar misfortune to that of Andrey Arshavin when he arrived back in 2009 and you won’t be surprised to hear the common denominator was Monsieur Wenger.

One can only hope new boss Unai Emery recognizes this and will do his upmost to accommodate Mesut in his preferred central position whilst also relieving him of a lot of his defensive responsibilities.  

The acquisition of Lucas Torreira should go a long way in rectifying our midfield imbalance and if Aaron Ramsey is to stay I’d expect him to be far more disciplined without the ball then he has been in recent seasons.  The new manager has a diamond in Mesut Özil and so creating the right environment around him should, in theory see him shine bright in 2018/19.

Words: @HarrySymeou


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