Mesut Ozil is 100% committed to Arsenal and feels the criticism of him is unfair, according to his agent
Mesut Ozil once again came in for heavy criticism after Arsenal were humiliated by Bayern Munich in a 5-1 defeat earlier this week with several ex-players – including legendary ex-Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn – accusing him of disappearing in big games.
However, Ozil’s agent – Dr. Erkut Sogut – has said that it is unfair to single out the 28-year old for criticism when the whole team failed to perform. Sogut also maintains that his client is fully committed to Arsenal and is desperate for the club to succeed.
“Criticism is normal if a player plays badly,” Dr Erkut Sogut told BBC Sport. “But Mesut feels people are not focusing on his performance; they are using him as a scapegoat for the team after bad results. Bayern had 74% possession. How can someone in the No.10 position create chances if you don’t have the ball?”
“Football is a team sport and Arsenal are not performing well as a team. Eleven players were on the pitch but Mesut was singled out for criticism. Was he the reason that Arsenal conceded five goals? Believe me, he is desperate to succeed. If it doesn’t work, he shows his anger and expressions. Was his body language an issue when Arsenal were playing well?”
“Mesut is committed to the club. There is no doubt that he will perform at 100%, with total professionalism and commitment as long as he plays for Arsenal. Nothing will change that. He is sorry to the fans, and he’s sorry that he and his team-mates couldn’t give the fans a better result in Munich.”
While Sogut is definitely right about the entire Arsenal team needing to take responsibility for their disappointing, almost inevitable collapse this season there is no doubt Ozil has failed to recreate the form he was showing at the start of the season.
Ozil hit his peak this season from October last year until the first of November, a period in which he picked up 5 goals and 3 assists in just 5 fixtures. Arsenal were beginning to look like a force to be reckoned with, especially with Alexis Sanchez’s performances up front.
They predictably tailed off soon after – injuries to key players such as Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin did nothing to help – and since then, Ozil has only managed to pick up 2 goals and 4 assists in 16 fixtures.
More worrying is his lack of contribution on the pitch, a tale that statistics don’t tell. Several times in recent weeks he has been caught on camera showing a distinct lack of effort to close players down, something he was not guilty of earlier in the season.
While Ozil is not lazy – something many people accuse him of simply because of his languid style and movement – he definitely looks like he is suffering from a worrying lack of motivation and looks bereft of confidence.
This is not just the case with Ozil, however. The entire Arsenal team look like a shade of the team that went on a long unbeaten run earlier in the season and for the first time, there is a very real fear that the Gunners will not qualify for the Champions League.
Compare his form to last season, and you will see a startling difference. By the end of last season, Ozil had picked up 19 assists in the English Premier League and once again due to Arsenal’s lack of form, lost out on breaking Thierry Henry’s record for most assists.
This season, he has only managed to pick up a mere 4 assists in the league and we are already in February. He has already scored 6 goals in the league – 1 more than his tally of 5 last season – but given that this was the season Wenger expected him to step up and start scoring, those are disappointing numbers too.
There has also been a huge drop in his creativity this season. Last season, Ozil averaged 3.71 key passes and created an impressive 4.27 chances per 90 minutes. This season, he has only been registering averages of 2.66 key passes and 2.67 chances created per game according to Squawka, which is a huge drop off from his performances in 2015-16.
Once more, it is important to point out that his creativity suffers when the team plays badly as a whole but given his talent, many fans expect Ozil to influence games himself and single-handedly turn results in the Gunners favour.
While Ozil is certainly capable of moments of individual appearance, the reality is that he has always been a player that thrives when surrounded by several other players who are his equal or his betters.
Ozil puts in consistently good performances for Germany, a team where he is surrounded by stars. At Real Madrid he was also criticised for a lack of effort but no one had much to say about his drop in form because there usually wasn’t one.
Ozil was surrounded by players who aren’t just above average – such as Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott – and his talent is wasted in a team that does not have players who can properly utilise his passing ability and vision.
Zinedine Zidane once said that selling Claude Makelele and buying David Beckham was like putting gold paint on a Rolls Royce that doesn’t have an engine. Ozil is the layer of gold paint in an Arsenal side that is not only missing an engine but also looks like it does not have wheels.
Watching Bayern Munich – a team that he has been urged to join by Michael Ballack – Ozil must have been wondering what it would be like to play in a team where everyone performs upto expectation and does their role.
The entire team must take responsibility for the performance, Ozil included, but the nature of his price tag means that he is criticised particularly unfairly – especially by the English press. It is not surprising the German is growing frustrated and if things don’t change, he could well decide to move on.