Mesut Ozil has seen his stock plummet considerably since his departure from Real Madrid, with the midfielder’s performances for Arsenal derided by some and his application for his country now under serious scrutiny.
Ozil was a club record acquisition for Arsenal, arriving on the final day of the summer transfer window for a fee of €50 million, but has failed to live up to significant expectation just yet. There is still plenty of time to do so, of course.
But Ozil is under pressure, extreme pressure, to hasten a turnaround in his performances, which have been criticised severely at the World Cup, particularly in the German press.
Ozil is likely to start for Germany against Brazil on Tuesday evening in the much anticipated World Cup semi-final encounter, but there are many who believe the time has come for the Arsenal player to be dropped by manager Joachim Low.
Paul Breitner is one of those to subscribe to this view. The 1974 World Cup winner has seriously stuck the boot into Ozil, and claims he should be omitted given the lack of commitment he has displayed in Brazil.
Time to be dropped?
“If Joachim Low is brave and says that he doesn't want to play with just ten players, he will leave Mesut Ozil out of the next match,” Breitner said.
“It would be a step towards the World Cup title and above all a step forward for the team.
“Nine players go out there and give everything for 90 minutes and one other does nothing but walk around on the pitch.
“At a World Cup, that can't happen. Joachim Low has to come out of his shadow and give a reaction.”
A lack of effort?
This accusation from Breitner is one that many Arsenal supporters made during Ozil’s maiden campaign at the Emirates Stadium - when things are not going to plan, the 25-year-old offers the impression that he is not trying.
Ozil’s lackadaisical approach is not one that endears a player to fans, although there would be considerably less criticism of the German’s casual persona were he able to contribute more tellingly for the Gunners.
Five goals and nine assists in 26 Premier League appearances was a decent return, but he notably tailed off towards the end of the season after spending a spell on the sidelines, while he was somewhat anonymous during the most important fixtures of the campaign.
It is unlikely Ozil will be afforded as much leeway from the Arsenal faithful during his second term, and he must hit his straps as early as possible to avoid slight reservations becoming deep concerns.
Watch: Germany assistant backs Ozil after criticism
Right decision to reject Fabregas deal?
Arsene Wenger could have signed Cesc Fabregas this summer, but forwent the opportunity in order to allow Ozil to flourish. That is quite a burden for the ex-Real Madrid player to assume.
But what is not in question throughout all of this is Ozil’s ability - he has the attributes to be among the very elite players in European football. There must be a sizeable mark-up in his performances, however.
Can Ozil prove Wenger was correct to allow Fabregas to join Chelsea? Let’s hope so, for the good of both Arsenal and the Premier League.