Mesut Ozil: 12 times Arsenal star showed he was genuinely world-class

Mesut Ozil warming up

Once Mesut Ozil retires, he will go down as one of the best playmakers we've ever seen.

On his day, he is a sumptuous footballer, one who could pick out a goal-scoring opportunity with his eyes closed. 

Unfortunately for the German, he is likely to go down as one of the most enigmatic to grace a football pitch too. 

For years now, Ozil hasn't been at his best. In each of the last two Premier League campaigns, he's started just 20 and 18 matches respectively, managing a haul of four assists in that time frame.

For someone who was widely regarded as one of the greatest number 10s to kick a ball, that tally is woeful. No longer does he play the game with relative ease, and when he does take to the field, supporters are often on his back.

Ozil is the definition of a marmite player. Some love him and some absolutely hate him. You can see both sides of the coin.

The German is Arsenal's highest-paid player on £350k-a-week and considering his lack of football, that really isn't a salary he deserves.

Mesut Ozil and Mikel Arteta

For all the talent, his career has dwindled in rapid fashion and he's now even been left out of Arsenal's Europa League squad for the current campaign. Judging by that, he is likely to be left out of their Premier League squad as well. 

There has been an ongoing battle between Ozil and the club for a while now. Not once has he spoken out of turn or in a negative way about Arsenal's operations, though.

He's stuck by the fact he wants to stay and despite refusing a pay cut when coronavirus reared its ugly head, he has now offered to pay the wages of departing mascot Gunnersaurus. 

If anything summed up the last few years of his career, this was it. 

Mesut Ozil with the FA Cup trophy

Considering the unfortunate events of the last two or three years, it's easy to forget just how good he was for Germany, Real Madrid and indeed Arsenal. 

His best moments certainly suggest he's worth keeping in north London, so sit back, relax, and enjoy 12 moments that made Ozil world-class.

Embarrassing Gareth Barry

Ahhh, the sound of a vuvuzela, Frank Lampard's goal that never was, and the scene of Nigel de Jong karate-kicking Xabi Alonso in the chest. What a World Cup we witnessed in South Africa. Coincidentally, it was also where Ozil really broke onto the scene. 

He was outstanding for Germany during that tournament and he ran riot against England in the last 16, helping his country to a 4-1 win. However, the way he contributed to their fourth goal was quite ridiculous. Now, Ozil isn't the quickest player out there, but he embarrassed Gareth Barry for pace, bursting down the left and then laying it on a plate for Thomas Muller to prod home.

Goal against Ghana

Ozil wasn't just assisting in South Africa, he was also scoring goals, and his strike against Ghana showcased his wand of a left foot. The ball was played into the German on the edge of the box before he unleashed a powerful strike right into the top corner. I don't think we've seen Ozil hit the ball as hard since. 

Outside of the boot mayhem

Ozil has managed to provide a mind-boggling 216 career assists but few are better than a pair of passes he once produced for Real Madrid. We all know how good the German's vision is but the way he created a goal for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2011 against Getafe was truly outrageous.

Picking the ball up on the right-hand side, Ronaldo isn't even in the picture when Ozil swings across a beautiful ball with the outside of his foot perfectly for the Portuguese to head home.

Remarkably, he then did it again just two games later during an 8-1 win over Almeria. This time the ball was played in behind the defence for Emmanuel Adebayor to run onto and score.

In the same season, Ozil provided 29 assists in all competitions - truly absurd.

Villarreal assist

La Liga defences must have been sick of the sight of Ozil once he finally left Real Madrid for Arsenal. After all, he totted up 27 goals and 80 assists in just 159 outings for Los Blancos. 

The Germany international had a wonderful understanding with Ronaldo and created 30 goals for the attacker during his stint in Spain. Few were better than a superb backheel against Villarreal after a glorious one-two between the pair. As soon as Ozil had played the pass, Marcelo was already celebrating. That's how good it was.

Cheeky assist for Giroud

Now we move onto Ozil's days at Arsenal. He hit the ground running with the Gunners and in his first season, 2013/14, provided 14 assists and seven goals. It wasn't quite the record he'd managed in Spain, but for someone adjusting to English football, it was a solid return.

He's had some outstanding moments in the red of Arsenal but one of his best assists came against Aston Villa. Ozil turned the ball round the corner with an elegant flick which Olivier Giroud tried his best to mess up, but ultimately found the back of the net. 

Goal against Ludogorets

2015/16 was the season where Ozil really got his Arsenal stay going and his goal against Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets is one of the best moments of his entire career to date. Mohamed Elneny pinged the ball over the top for the playmaker to run onto, and then after delicately chipping the ball over the goalkeeper, sat not one, but two defenders on the floor before sliding it into an empty net.

This goal is one that gets better every time you watch it. Gorgeous stuff.

Nearly breaking Henry’s assist record

This statistic will haunt Arsenal fans for years to come. Ozil finished the 2015/16 campaign just one assist shy of equalling Henry's record of 20 in a solitary Premier League campaign.

Arsenal's no.10 ended December needing just four more assists to break the record so the blame will have to go to the Gunners' strikers at the time for not getting him over the line. That being said, Olivier Giroud did establish a fine connection with Ozil - just check out how they combined in the video below.

Making a mockery of Kante

One of the finest moments of Arsene Wenger's later years in charge of the club was an impressive 3-0 win over Chelsea at the beginning of the 2016/17 season. Ozil was fabulous on the day and his goal was simply sensational.

First, he turned N'Golo Kante inside out, before leading a stunning counter attack that led to an exchange of passes with Alexis Sanchez. Ozil then buried his opportunity at the back post on the volley. This was Wenger-ball at its very best.

Assist vs Swansea

Ozil may well have the finest assist collection of anyone to play the game and his ball for Nacho Monreal against Swansea brought back shades of his days at Real Madrid.

The Spaniard was nowhere to be seen on the left-hand side but the German spots his run towards the back post and plays a lovely curled ball over the top for the left-back to stab home. How Arsenal could have done with creativity like that last season.

Trickshots galore

Quite how Ozil manages this type of trickery is unknown. Even the most intelligent of minds will struggle to tell you. He first did it during his opening campaign in Madrid but then brought it to the party at Arsenal when he scored against Liverpool.

Ozil traditionally runs onto the ball and then bounces it tamely into the ground before it rises up over the 'keeper. It's quite extraordinary but no one has come up with a way to stop it yet. 

Backheel assist vs Liverpool

Ozil has managed his trickshot twice against Liverpool and he's had a habit of embarrassing them down the years. If you thought all of the German's best moments came earlier in his career, then this piece of magic happened only last season.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles does really well to close the goalkeeper down but after he wins the ball back, it looks destined to go out of play. Step forward, Ozil, who does brilliantly to keep it in with a cheeky backheel that Maitland-Niles tucks away from close range.

So there you have it, a collection of some of the finest moments Ozil has ever produced on a football field.

Narrowing it down to 12 was a tricky task but it provides all the evidence you need that the 31-year-old was and still is, on his day, world-class. 

It's baffling to think he'll rarely get a look in at Arsenal this season. 

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