The summer of 2013 was a tedious one for Arsenal fans. The club made it very clear during the spring that they had money at their disposal and more importantly: they wanted to spend it.
All of those who follow Arsenal closely knew that the club was tied economically by the enormous debt from building Emirates Stadium and with Arsene Wenger in charge, a man who majored in economics before going into management, they were never going to spend money they didn’t have, so when Ivan Gazidis proclaimed that the club finally had money to spend, the fans started dreaming.
Every fan has an opinion of which players their club should sign, not helped by sensationalistic journalists and ‘exclusives’ that were totally made up. To put it harshly, the fans drove themselves up into a corner. They waited all summer long for a big signing. They waited for one of those signings from the top shelf, one that could excite everybody around the club. At 8pm on Transfer Deadline Day it finally happened.
Of all the rumours that were floating around the internet, none of them mentioned this player, no one had predicted this signing. A truly world-class player, who had been a star-player at Real Madrid for three seasons and was hailed by José Mourinho as ‘the best number 10 in the world’.
Mesut Ozil smashed Arsenal's transfer record and was probably the most unexpected transfer of the year. The other players spoke about the signing with great excitement, saying that it ‘lifted the club’s spirit’ and ‘pushed them to perform at a higher level’. It was exactly the kind of signing that Arsenal and their fans needed. He performed brilliantly in the first half of the season and quickly made an impact with an assist for Olivier Giroud on his debut against Sunderland and another three in his first game at the Emirates versus Stoke City.
However, Mesut Ozil has somewhat faded away in the second half of the season and has really struggled in recent games. The criticism came very quickly after his form started to drop a little. The fans and pundits expected him to lead Arsenal in every single game, scoring goals and making assists at a blistering pace. The fact of the matter is that he hasn’t.
What is the reason behind his lack of form? Some people think he is lazy and isn’t motivated, some say he doesn’t fit in at Arsenal, on and off the field and who knows?
There is one key-factor that doesn’t get mentioned a lot: He is not used to being the star-player. He came from Real Madrid, where he was an exceptional player, one that simply performed and did it without too much fuss, because all eyes were on Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and all the other fantastic players that Madrid have. Ozil doesn’t seem like a character that thrives in the limelight unlike Ronaldo. Ozil could quietly go about his business.
In Arsenal, he has gotten a totally different role in the media. He is the star man, the one that people should look to when the games are tight. That obviously does not suit him. As far as the football goes, Ozil has also struggled because of his teammates.
It’s very often that he gets the ball on the counter with no one to play it to, no one making the runs that really make him dangerous. Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott are the kind of players that Ozil needs in a team and they are both out injured. Sadly, a lot of the fans question his ability and commitment for Arsenal, which isn’t exactly the right way to support a key player, who is struggling for form.
There can be no doubt that Ozil is one the absolute best in the world and even when he isn’t playing at his best, he still makes a difference.
In defence of Mesut Ozil: with time and trust from Arséne Wenger, he will be a great player for Arsenal and justify his enormous price tag because he has the undeniable quality of a true world-class player.
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