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The decline of Mesut Ozil: Real Madrid superstar to Arsenal bench-warmer

Real Madrid v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Round of 16
Real Madrid v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Round of 16
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Modified 11 Sep 2020, 23:37 IST
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In 2010, a young German midfielder named Mesut Ozil came to limelight during the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Real Madrid were impressed by his performances and snapped him up, despite interest from arch-rivals Barcelona and Manchester United.

This was the way Mesut Ozil was seen when he arrived at the scene in world football. He established himself as one of the best playmakers in world football and big things were expected from him. Usually, young players can be overwhelmed by the pressure of playing in front of the ever-demanding Bernabeu, but that didn't stop him from thriving.

Real Madrid had top players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria and Kaka during his time there, however, Mesut Ozil managed to shine and become a key player for Jose Mourinho. In his first season, he finished with 25 assists in all competitions, more than any other player, before being handed the No.10 shirt at the start of 2011-12 season.

Arsenal v Norwich City - Premier League
Arsenal v Norwich City - Premier League

Things were going very well for the former Bremen midfielder and he stayed at the club for two more years before being shipped to Arsenal. Florentino Perez wanted to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 and for that he needed funds. Many criticised Perez for selling Mesut Ozil to bring in Bale and this move was labelled as Perez's obsession with a Galactico signing.

Mesut Ozil's move to Arsenal was unsurprisingly unpopular amongst Real Madrid fans

It was surprising in itself that Arsenal managed to sign him, as it was a completely unexpected move. The Gunners signed Mesut Ozil for a fee of £42.5 million, which at that time was a club-record fee, and fans were very excited to see at the Emirates. He did not disappoint.

In his first season, he did very well and his performances justified the price tag, leaving the Gunners under the impression that they had done a masterstroke by signing one of the best playmakers in Europe.

He returned next season with a World Cup win in Brazil and continued to play well for the next two seasons. However, there were times when he was criticised for his lethargic body language and lack of defensive contributions.

Arsenal FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Arsenal FC v Vitoria Guimaraes: Group F - UEFA Europa League
Arsenal FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Arsenal FC v Vitoria Guimaraes: Group F - UEFA Europa League
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Arsenal fans and pundits asked questions as to why he didn't show passion like his teammate Alexis Sanchez and he was also questioned for his low work rate. Despite this, Mesut Ozil was still very much protected.

However, things started to turn bad for him when he was in the final year of his contract at the start of the 2017-18 season.

Gunners fans did not want a repeat of the Robin van Persie situation, as he was also often linked to Man United and Barcelona. Mesut Ozil made a dramatic u-turn and signed a contract extension until 2021 worth £350,000-per-week. He became the highest-paid player in Arsenal's history and the second-highest earner in the Premier League.

Since then, things haven't been the same for the German as Wenger left the club and Unai Emery came in. He started well under Emery but he was constantly injured and also showed a dip in form. It was reported that Emery and Mesut Ozil had fallen out and that the former PSG manager would often ask him to show more commitment. He was regularly absent in matchday squads and there were constant reports that he might be on his way out.

Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final
Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final

It felt as if what many fans and pundits had been saying about him was being reiterated by Emery. Mesut Ozil was the top earner but his performances and attitude weren't sent to be good enough, though Emery did try a formation change to bring him in and started him in the Europa League final. He wasn't involved much in the game and Arsenal lost 4-1, before it was also reported that Ozil had criticised Emery's tactics in front of his Arsenal teammates.

Despite being linked with a move away from the club, nothing materialised and Mesut Ozil remained at the Emirates. Again, Emery would often keep him out of the starting eleven, but was finally sacked in November and replaced by Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal were desperately hoping that Arteta might be the man who could get the best out of Mesut Ozil as he did then start games in the Premier League. So it was hoped Ozil would be ready to burst through and start to show his best football.

Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final

However, football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. After the restart of the 2019/20 seasonm Mesut Ozil has hardly featured for the Gunners and wasn't even appearaning from the bench either. Like his predecessor, Arteta also decided not to play Ozil and under their former captain's management they have won the FA Cup and Community Shield.

The Premier League season is about to start in a few days and it is believed that Arteta will call upon Mesut Ozil for the opening game against Fulham.

It hasn't been all bad for the German at Emirates, mind. He has won 4 FA Cups and 2 Community Shields with the club, however, much more was expected from him and things haven't gone to plan.

The club also needs to take some responsibility for it. Perhaps if they had managed to sign top players, they might have been able to see a very different Mesut Ozil for a longer period of time.

Published 10 Sep 2020, 02:31 IST
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