Mesut Ozil is a conundrum for football fans, especially for supporters of Arsenal FC. Is it his laid-back demeanor and playing style? Does he simply just not fit into the English "mould" of football players?
"Doesn't work hard enough"* is the simplistic response you will hear when asking a fan these sort of questions. It has now come to a point that these criticisms be put to bed.
When Arsenal signed Ozil in 2013 for the £42.5 million price tag, immediately he was to be placed into a box, one which would be almost inescapable for the German international. This box represented a growing need of Arsenal fans to sign "the one". The one guy who can change the fortunes of the clubs results. Strides had been made by the club in previous windows with the signings of players such as Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski that led fans of the club to believe that progress was on the cards. However, nothing came close to the stature of the signing of Ozil.
A winner of La Liga titles and one of the most renowned young players of the decade, Ozil immediately excited the Arsenal fans. Unfortunately for the player, it is arguable that he did not know exactly what he was getting himself into. The Premier League represented a hard working, no nonsense approach to the game. Work hard, the fans will reward you was the general motto of most clubs. For Arsenal and their manager Arsene Wenger however, it is more subtle than the kitchen sink approach.
Wenger knew what he was signing. This was a man with a vision, not a short term fix, but a long term goal. Ozil's first season was difficult for him physically, as he will admit to himself. However, with the uproar surrounding the players performances by Arsenal fans and most pundits in the country, it is almost humorous when one considers what Ozil achieved. He helped the side to their first trophy in eight years, and played intricate parts in many of the goals scored that season.
Moving to the 2014/15 season, Ozil has been a revelation. His passing, knowledge, vision and all round class have shone through. Not only this, after being hit by an injury ruling him out for several months, he worked tirelessly in the Arsenal gym to gain a greater physical stature and strength; a move whose rewards are now being reaped.
Ozil is one of the hardest working players on a pitch when he plays for Arsenal, covering more ground than most midfield players. Adding to that, his ability to create the "killer" pass has never diminished and still he creates assists for his fellow teammates.
Ozil is free from his box, and the price tag has been repaid. Arsenal fans can count themselves extremely lucky to have such a team player in the squad. A World Cup winner is not easy to come by, just as a player whom Cristiano Ronaldo lauded after and hence criticised his own club Real Madrid for selling. Mesut Ozil is easily scapegoated, yet the true football enthusiast will understand just how important he is for whatever team he is playing for.