Despite the proliferation of talent over the past decade, the price of £42 million seemed like a bargain for Ozil, one which Arsenal boss Wenger uncharacteristically grabbed with both hands, and one which has paid great dividends. With Ozil’s performances throughout the duration of his time at Real Madrid, some would argue a greater price tag should have been placed on Ozil, despite now becoming the most expensive German player of all time.
Real Madrid bought Ozil for an amount in the region of £12 million in 2010 from German side Werder Bremen. Congratulations to Arsenal on signing one of the world’s most intelligent players, however, why would Real Madrid allow a player described by Ruud Gullit as “technically perfect”, to leave?
He remains one of the most underrated players in the world; his humble demeanour off and on the pitch, his unquestionable ability and sportsmanship on the pitch also makes him one of the best midfielders in the sport has ever seen.
But could this be the reason why he failed to survive the pressures of the Bernabeu? Let’s face it, unless you are Ronaldo or Messi, it is unlikely that you’ll ever find yourself being as important as the club you play for.
Whilst in his native Germany, Ozil displayed performances him bring in double-figured assists on a season-by-season basis. There were 15 in his first season for Bremen with 3 goals, and 9 goals plus 17 assists in 31 Bundesliga appearances in his second. The next season saw Ozil finish with 25 assists in all competitions, the highest by any player in the world and this achievement placed him on the shortlist for 2011-12’s Ballon d’Or the following year, where he even managed to improve his season tally to 26 assists.
Due to the high demand for players with a high capacity for assisting attacking play around the world, even Real Madrid seemed to be punishing themselves through his sale, and have since relied on the ability of their new signing, Luka Modric from Tottenham, whilst focusing on the proliferation of their hot prospects – including the Brazilian Casemiro and the impressive Spaniard Isco.
In terms of impact, Ozil was, and has been the unrivalled master of assists to every team he has played for. Ozil has continued to bring the sort of contribution that players rarely illustrate these days; he represents the perfection of the Classic No.10 position, following in the footsteps of players such as Riquelme, Zidane and Maradona.
For teams today the No.10 shirt is often a way of identifying the most recognisable player or striker on the pitch. However, Ozil has shown he is the best player in the position he plays, now the Premiership have experienced first-hand the way in which Ozil has employed exquisite ball control, vision and creativity to create a barrage of opportunities for Arsenal’s strike force.
But, enough about his CV. And who other than fellow admirer, former coach, and the man responsible for bringing Ozil out of the depths of his native Germany, Jose Mourinho, to express Ozil’s contribution since then: ‘He arrived, Arsene gave him the shirt, immediately he starts playing and immediately the team becomes better… He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of those players that you buy and you complete the puzzle of your team’.
He has set Arsenal’s season alight through the same technical and mental attributes that made him a world-class player.
Ozil’s Arsenal debut was again another of the many opportunities he has grasped with both hands. He lit up the match with a perfect performance, demonstrating his vision, playmaking, and set piece abilities and routinely assisting with two goals. His involvement in the third demonstrated in fact, that where there are goals, there is Ozil. In fact, on average every 25 minutes, Ozil creates an assist or a chance, bragging rights that no other player in the League can claim.
Critics have often picked unnecessarily at the German international for performances that look a little lacklustre; but such arguments have little substance in the eyes of the footballing world. Ozil is in a league of his own. Some matches may have seen a small slip in his performances, but even Messi and Ronaldo have been guilty of mediocre appearances. The impeccable standards he has set for himself means he will always be susceptible to criticism and may mean Ozil will never receive the respect and honours he is due.
If football was a shop, Ozil would be the manager of the creativity and class department. And remember that, at only 25 years old, he is bound for greatness. In short, it is only a matter of time before Ozil receives the same degree of appreciation in the eyes of his team mates, old and new, from the rest of the footballing universe.
So I now leave you with this question which may evoke food for thought – Is Mesut Ozil the most IMPORTANT player in the world? If you are yet to make your decision, give it two more seasons.
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