Some interesting news concerning Mesut Ozil emerged lately. Ozil’s agent, Erkun Sogut, has said that he will stay at the least until the end of his contract, and even though there could be some possibility that he stays beyond that, it seems for various reasons we’re in the Ozil end-times.
However, even if we are in the Ozil end times, how has he done at our club?
Is he a legend? Has he done enough to constitute legendary status?
Has he been a flop?
Ozil is naturally a divisive figure amongst fans. There are many who feel that despite his innate talent, he has not performed as consistently as possible. I am amongst them, though it’s unfair to say he has achieved nothing with us.
What then can be made of Ozil’s Arsenal times?
Despite the current narrative of Ozil (being largely negative) what is the best to see from Ozil? What good does he bring to the table?
My own view of Ozil isn’t that he’s a player who has achieved a lot.
He’s a World Champion.
The likes of Messi and Ronaldo cannot say that – and they’re amongst the GOATs.
Other GOATS such as di Stefano, Puskas or Cruyff, never won the WC.
He has great technical ability and excelled at Real Madrid amongst Ronaldo and other top players.
However, he has been inconsistent. And this mixed with his reported £300k p/w contract is a massive elephant in the room. He also must bring a lot of experience, and despite his current form must be a respected player in the dressing room.
So we can critique him and his current play, but he’s far from a valueless player and not somebody to be wholly derided.
The summer of 2013 was akin to many others in recent history.
The Higuain and Benzema sagas were rife back then.
Supposedly, we had Higuain and his father tour the training ground, and if we had got him, we may well have pushed closer to the league and done better in the Champions League to boot.
So getting Ozil on the last day, a player in his prime no less, was epic.
The Emirates locales were crowded with excited fans, and given the years of austerity and player losses via the stadium financing, it was our time to shine as it were.
However, despite Ozil’s promise and world-class status at that point, he hasn’t provided bang for the buck.
Compared to other known/big-name signings in PL history for us, he ranks in a median position.
Sanchez, Henry, Pires, Overmars, Lehmann, Wiltord, Kanu, Gilberto, Bergkamp, Rosicky, Aubameyang, and Mertesacker, were all known players prior to joining Arsenal, who in varying means were consistent achievers at the club. We can all say that they lived up to their billings in varying ways. Some of these players are legends, without a doubt.
Ozil though, in contrast, hasn’t lived up to the hype.
This isn’t to knock him, but then for me, he has not lived up to the initial expectation.
In a way, it’s like Paul Pogba at Man United. He was a world record signing, and whilst few can doubt his innate ability (like Ozil) he hasn’t been consistent. Granted, the United period post-Ferguson has been turbulent. But Pogba has not lived up to his initial hype and transfer fee.
Criticism of Ozil, therefore, is justified in this context, and in extending the Pogba analogy, this leads on to another point.
Pogba didn’t get along with Mourinho when he was Man U manager. He seems to be OK with Solskjaer, however, his form hasn’t really enhanced that much.
Pogba’s issue could be a matter of environment, and is it the same with Ozil?
Ozil is a player who isn’t very energetic and won’t cover every blade of grass as required. or he won’t do this consistently. he, therefore, needs others in the side to do this for him, so he can spend time in creating and providing.
We’ve seldom had this. In his first season, Flamini and Ramsey were the midfield pivot. Flamini was a holding player, and Ramsey liked to get forward in the final third. Then Coquelin and Cazorla were a pivot for a while, and Coquelin was the holder and Cazorla held the ball well and carried it forward.
Arteta played a holding role also, and the overall balance then was better.
This was abandoned somewhat with Xhaka’s introduction, though Torreira is a move back towards this formula.
Even still, it is possible that the team structure hasn’t been conducive to Ozil. All players, even Ronaldo/Messi levels, need a structure to get the best from them.
Is this reaching, or finding excuses? Maybe, who knows? But bad performance, like many things in life, can be multi-faceted. And Ozil’s poor form could be a function of system, as much as any perceived negative on his own part.
Have the players he’s been with not been at the level?
I don’t agree with this.
Even now, our first XI when strongest are all internationals. Gabon (for Auba) isn’t the strongest national side, granted, but then Auba is their captain and poster boy. Pepe plays for Cote d’Ivoire, which is amongst the best African countries, and Torreira (Uruguay), Guendouzi (France), Xhaka (Switzerland), Leno (Germany), all play for competitive international teams. Scotland (Tierney) even is in the Euro 2021 play-offs as it stood, so he could potentially play in a major tournament. David Luiz isn’t a stellar defender, but then Brazil does have immense footballing history, and it’s not his fault Germany (and Ozil no less) beat them 7-1 in their own country.
And when he joined us, Ozil had Cazorla (Spain WC/Euros winner), Giroud (France), Walcott (England), Rosicky (Czech Republic), and Wilshere (England) as teammates, who all played for relatively competitive national teams.
So player quality, such as system, maybe another loose argument to make here.
Sanchez was a major factor in Chile winning back to back Copa Americas, so nobody could dispute his quality. Sanchez at Arsenal, based on his international and club form, was a prime world-class player, without question. Alexis spearheaded a truly golden Chilean generation, as Chile won their only two Copa Americas in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Sanchez played key roles in both tournaments, scoring the winning penalty in the 2015 final in Chile.
It’s not harsh to say that Ozil has lived up to his initial hype.
In summary, Ozil hasn’t been terrible for us, but not stellar.
It’s harsh to say his time may be a waste. But it’s clear that he hasn’t been a consistent performer.
Perhaps it would be time to call things a day and move on. With hopefully no hard feelings between the club, fans, and Ozil himself.