Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has put the boot in on Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil once again, claiming the Germany international has failed to deliver in the biggest matches since joining the Gunners in September 2013.
Neville believes Ozil flatters to deceive against the best opponents, and feels Arsenal have been left short-changed for their £42.4 million investment.
Ozil has performed better in recent weeks and was named as the club’s Player of the Month for February - despite the fact he endured another disappointing Champions League night in the last-16 first leg against AS Monaco towards the end of last month - but Neville thinks Arsenal fans should expect more from their record signing.
Neville: Ozil fails to perform in big matches
Comparing the situations of former Real Madrid teammates Ozil and Angel di Maria, now of Manchester United, Neville wrote in his latest Telegraph column: “Just like Di Maria, Ozil was pushed out of Madrid and he has since struggled to be the game-changer that I believe a £42m player should be for Arsenal.
“Although Arsenal fans often complain when I highlight Ozil’s shortcomings, my response is that I generally see him in the bigger games against the top opponents and he has not delivered.
“In 22 games against Chelsea, United, City, Liverpool and Tottenham, plus Champions League appearances, he has scored just two goals.
“It is not enough for a player of Ozil’s ability, he does not influence games as he should, but maybe Arsenal and United fans need to accept that it will take longer for the German and Di Maria to come good.”
Di Maria has this excuse
Di Maria has been surprisingly poor for the Red Devils in recent months, although Neville makes the valid point that the Argentina international is probably still scarred from the break-in attempt at his Cheshire home earlier this year.
The South American, who speaks very little English, is currently residing in a Manchester-based hotel with his wife and young child.
Ozil a victim of unfair media scrutiny?
Ozil has not experienced such trauma since arriving in England, although some Arsenal fans feel the player has been unfairly victimised by the media.
Neville’s former teammate Paul Scholes wrote in his latest Independent column that Ozil took the “easy option” by joining Arsenal - and said that at times it looks as if the 26-year-old is simply going through the motions.
This prompted Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to hit back in his pre-match press conference on Friday morning.
“I think a player like Paul Scholes would have loved to play with Mesut Ozil,” Wenger told reporters, according to the Mirror. “Having said that, I believe about Ozil it’s a wrong statement [from Scholes]. He works very hard and he’s a great player.
“He has something to prove and he knows that. We are all in a job where in every single game we have to prove a point.”
Ozil has failed to live up to price tag - but that could change
But Ozil has a bigger point to prove than most. The Arsenal playmaker has not lived up to his price tag since joining the Gunners, while several of his performances in the biggest matches over the past 18 months have bordered on shameful.
This is a player blessed with world-class talent, as regular followers of La Liga witnessed for three years during his spell at Real Madrid.
So quite why he has failed to shine at Arsenal is a bit of a mystery - and one which divides the Gunners’ faithful.
Will we now see the best of Mesut Ozil in an Arsenal shirt? Have your say in the comments below!