Lionel Messi may have been crowned the best player in the world in 2015, but could an Arsenal player be competing with him next year for the Ballon d'Or?
That man is Mesut Ozil. Not for a second, am I suggesting he can win it, but considering the form that Ozil has been in recently, he might be in the top three for 2016.
Here’s why he might be, and what he needs to do in order to increase his chances.
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Footballers these days usually get judged on their numbers. And more specifically, their goals and assists.
The German so far has been going the right way about it. He has been in dazzling form this season, topping the assist table with 16, seven more than second place Kevin De Bruyne. This has ultimately proved most of his doubters wrong.
The critics were there for a reason, he has already managed ten more assists than the whole of last campaign. They know he has talent, because you don’t play for Real Madrid without it, but some Arsenal supporters wanted more for their £42.5 million.
Now they’re getting their money’s worth and he could be about to break Gunners legend Thierry Henry’s assist record. The Frenchman set up 20 goals in the north London club’s 2002-03 season and that achievement still stands today.
With five more assists to go and 17 more games to play, it’s likely he might be a record breaker this season. Nonetheless, around this time last year, Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas had 15 assists in the bank, but only managed to add three more to that tally for the rest of the season. So it’s not done and dusted just yet.
If he wants to be shortlisted, Ozil needs to break the record. When Henry set the accomplishment, he was nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2003, only losing out to Juventus attacker Pavel Nedved.
That won’t be the only thing the former Real Madrid player needs to achieve though. Henry managed to score 25 goals in 2003, while Ozil hasn’t scored 25 goals for Arsenal yet.
Albeit he’s not a striker, that’s still where the German international needs to improve. He is admirably unselfish, but he needs goals and goals in big matches too. He has only managed three league goals this term, which will need to significantly improve in 2016 in order for him to be considered on the shortlist.
Nevertheless, his manager thinks he deserves it. When asked if Ozil could win the award next year, Wenger replied: “I wish."
Trophies with Arsenal
It’s not all about the statistics though. Players get judged on the trophies they win also. One of the reasons Messi won the achievement for 2015, was because he won five trophies in a remarkable year with Barcelona.
The Gunners are well in the race for the Premier League title, still in the Champions League and could win the FA Cup for the third year on the trot. However, it’s the former two which Ozil needs to win to be considered.
They are two of the biggest prizes in football. In order to be considered one of the best, you need to be defeating the best. That’s starting with Barcelona in February.
It’s a mountain of a task, but he will be facing a few of the players that will be rivalling him to be on the shortlist. Luis Suarez was arguably unlucky to miss out this time, while Neymar and Messi were on the shortlist this time around.
If Arsenal can knockout the holders, then Ozil immediately has an advantage, and a huge opportunity to put himself among the best.
Nevertheless, Arsene Wenger’s side didn’t win the title or the Champions League in the 2002-03 season and Henry was nominated. However, perhaps because they won it the season after, Henry was acknowledged for his 2003 heroics.
It’s not out of the realms of possibility that Arsenal do the domestic double though, and with Ozil heavily contributing to that this season already, that could give him an edge.
He has to carry on his form though until May, and continue his impressive figures into the following season which won’t be easy to do. Especially if he picks-up an injury - which he did last week, forcing him out of the Gunners' away draw with Stoke.
Ronaldo out of form?
Another reason why Ozil could be nominated is because two-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo could be coming towards the end of his career.
He has still been producing some incredible stats, but many have criticised his attitude on the pitch, which might ultimately cost Real Madrid winning any trophies this season.
This leaves a gap for his former Real Madrid colleague to exploit. He might move to Paris Saint-Germain and score a ridiculous number of goals, but will that be enough for his side to win major honours?
We will have to see, but he certainly won’t be the only one to watch out for, Suarez and Neymar will be big favourites to be nominated.
Even though it might be unlikely for Ozil to be shortlisted, he will probably have the best chance of a Premier League player to do so since Fernando Torres and at the time, Ronaldo in 2008.
The German has a lot of work to do, but if he keeps up his late-2015 form and adds some major honours, who knows, the Premier League might restore some of its pride.
Does Ozil have a chance of being nominated for the Ballon d'Or? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!