From being one of the best playmakers in the world to not even being in Arsenal’s Europa League squad against Vitoria, Mesut Ozil’s fall from grace at the North London club echoes that of a Greek tragedy. The German has appeared just thrice for the Gunners this season in all competitions while subsequently being subbed off in each.
The attacking midfielder was widely considered as the most talented player of German football’s golden generation with a record five German Player of the Year awards. He was instrumental as Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
After a dramatic deadline day move to the Emirates, the German was Arsenal’s best player in his first two seasons with the Gunners, even setting a Premier League record of becoming the first player to assist in seven straight matches. The midfielder ended his third season at Arsenal with eight goals and 20 assists as he went on to win the Arsenal Player of the Season award as well as two back-to-back FA Cups.
However, over the last few years, the 31-year-old German has fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal, while a dispute with the Die Mannschaft’s management led to his premature retirement from international football after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Ozil might be the fastest player to reach 50 assists in the Premier League, but the departure of Arsene Wenger can be marked as the beginning of the decline for him. Unai Emery, who replaced Wenger at the Emirates didn’t fancy the creative midfielder, claiming that he is not good enough for his preferred pressing system.
A son of second-generation Turkish-German nationals, Ozil grew up in the industrial city of Schalke. The young playmaker began his senior career at Schalke 04 and quickly started going up the ranks as he established himself in the first team.
He then moved to Werder Bremen in the winter of 2008. This was his first big break as he led the club to the UEFA Cup final and won the DFB Pokal during the 2008-09 season.
Eligible to play for either Germany or Turkey, Ozil chose to play for his country of birth. He was a member of the German under-21 team which won the U-21 European Championship in 2009, he was selected as the man of the match in a 4–0 win over England in the final. He subsequently got selected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad.
Ozil showcased his talent on the world stage in Africa which earned him a mega move to Spanish giants Real Madrid. It was at Madrid where the German became the world’s best No.10. His deadline day move to North London in 2013 was quite outrageous, many pundits pointed out that Ozil is actually downgrading by joining Arsenal. However, in his debut season, he helped Arsenal to an FA Cup triumph, thus ending the club’s decade long trophy drought.
Ozil is a kind of player that divides opinion among Arsenal fans, there is no doubt about his technical abilities and creativity, but his languid body language isn’t appreciated by the fans. He’s been scapegoated by the fans for the team’s dismal performances. Arsenal as a team has been in decline for the last three seasons with the worst defence in the top five European leagues, the defence has even gotten poorer in Emery’s watch, but it’s always Ozil who gets the stick.
The playmaker has also been criticized for the amount of time he spends playing video games, it’s well-known Ozil is a keen Fortnite gamer with a massive following on Twitch. There was even speculation online the German injured his back from playing up to 5 hours per day. Very unprofessional behaviour from an athlete as long periods of time sitting down will lead to injuries. Footballers should have hobbies that aid recovery on rest days, maybe Ozil should start golfing.
Arsenal has some superb attacking players, but there is no creativity in the midfield with Ozil’s omission from the squad. The playmaker was Arsenal’s best player in their loss against Liverpool at Anfield in the Carabao Cup, he assisted 2 goals and played an important role in another. His creative flair is what the team needs for their exciting forwards to shine. It will be really interesting to see whether Emery uses his best player or leave him out of the squad in the upcoming matches.