Mesut Ozil is one of the most polarizing footballers in the world today. His fans can see no wrong in the man, while his critics call him an over rated prima dona.
So who is the real Mesut Ozil?
Jose Mourinho placed Ozil over Kaka in the Real Madrid pecking order, while Arsene Wenger and Joachim Loew regularly start him in every match they play.
To have validation from three of the best coaches in the world must surely mean that Ozil has something special doesn’t it?
Blessed with supreme technical ability, Ozil’s peers treat him with respect, bordering on reverence as everyone seems to be a fan of Germany’s number ten.
But he has his critics. You cannot run away from the fact that Ozil is a defensive liability in the team. He rarely tracks back and can often be seen wandering up the pitch as the opposition charges towards his goal.
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On the ball, the man represents everything that is beautiful in the beautiful game. His touch, movement and game intelligence is second to none. A Mesut Ozil in top form, glides across the pitch and keeps probing until he finds the key to unlock opposition defenses. It’s footballing orchestra at its finest.
Widely accepted as a world class player with Real Madrid, Mesut Ozil shocked the world when he joined Arsenal four summers ago. The signing was a watershed moment for Arsenal football club, as it signaled a new era for the North London side.
The facts do not lie. In the nine years before Ozil arrived in North London, Arsenal did not win a single trophy. In the four years since the German’s arrival, Arsenal have won three FA Cups.
No one has created more chances, nor have given more assists than Mesut Ozil ever since he joined the Premier League.
So why does he get the sort of stick that others do not get?
The thing with Ozil is that he looks really good when on song, but looks dreadful when he has a bad game. Whenever Arsenal struggle in big matches, Ozil’s lack of influence is highlighted far more than any other player.
That is because people expect so much more from him. They expect him to inspire his side when the going gets tough for fellow team mates. And his inability to do so infuriates people to no end.
At the end of his career, Ozil will go down as a fantastic player. But to be mentioned along side the likes of Zidane, Gerrard and Ronaldinho, Ozil will need to start inspiring his team all on his own.
This will be a crucial year for Ozil, maybe the most important of his career.
With the World Cup on the horizon, Germany will need Mesut Ozil to be in top form ahead of the mega event. The defending champions realize that he will be integral to their hopes of retaining the cup, as he can so often provide the difference.
For Arsenal, Ozil will be of even more importance. The German may be playing his last season at the Emirates, and must surely feel that there is unfinished business at the club.
His arrival did signal a few FA Cups, but the Premier League is what Arsenal really need. More than any other trophy, the Premier League is what Wenger and his men will be looking to win this season.
Eric Cantona was the one who inspired Manchester United to their first Premier League title. Jose Mourinho needed Frank Lampard to lift his game for Chelsea to attain their first league title in fifty years.
At the fag end of his career, even the great Zidane had to once gain become France’s talisman, as they reached the 2006 World Cup final.
Arsenal need Ozil to do just that. They need Ozil to take his game to new heights. They need goals, assists and match winning contributions in the biggest of matches. Make no mistake about it, if Arsenal need to come anywhere close to the title they will need Mesut Ozil to light up the Premier League.
As for Ozil, this year will go a long way in defining his legacy. If he could raise his level and inspire both Arsenal and Germany to glory in the next 12 months, Ozil could make a strong case of being regarded as one of the greats of the game.
Fail to do so, and he will be remembered as just another beautiful player of the beautiful game.