As the Premier League draws to a close, Mesut Ozil’s name has been surprisingly been labelled as one of the flops of the season by a number of football fans. With a £42.5 million price tag comes great expectation, and many seem to believe that the Arsenal midfielder has failed to justify the hype.
Granted, Ozil has endured a mixed first season in English football. The German international suffered a well publicised dip in form in the new year before a hamstring injury ruled the playmaker out for over a month.
But does that really make Ozil a flop?
Statistics taken from WhoScored show that the German has notched five goals and nine assists in the Premier League this season. The midfielder averages 2.9 key passes a game with a total pass success rate of 87.8%, while Squawka reports that he has created 69 chances for his team-mates.
For the club’s record signing by some distance, these figures represent a solid if unspectacular debut season in English football. At the time of writing, Ozil is Arsenal’s leading player in assists and is joint fifth with David Silva in the division, three behind Luis Suarez at the top of the charts.
Admittedly, the former Real Madrid star has not quite replicated the form which led Cristiano Ronaldo to publicly condemn the club’s decision to sanction his deadline day sale. In his time at the Spanish capital, only Lionel Messi from Europe’s top five leagues could match the German’s assist total.
Unfortunately for Ozil though, football fans tend to judge transfers in the binary terms of success or failure. There is no middle ground, especially for such a high profile arrival, which means that the German’s failure to match the heights of his previous endeavours has seen him dismissed as a flop in certain quarters.
Ozil is a playmaker that is improved by those around him. It isn’t a surprise that his struggles came at a time when Arsenal were missing a number of important attacking individuals such as Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere. The German’s recent upturn in form has noticeably coincided with the return of the Welshman in midfield.
This dip made Ozil the perfect scapegoat for Arsenal’s slump in February and March. The Daily Mail and the Mirror led with the headlines “Missing in Action” and “Ozil and Out” after the Gunners’ Champions League exit to Bayern Munich. This was despite the fact that the midfielder was substituted at half time after picking up an injury.
The hamstring problem that Ozil suffered at the Allianz had ruled him out of action until recent weeks, which meant that the German was unable to eradicate the image of that weak penalty from the first leg. Football fans’ have notoriously short memories. Rather than remember the early season form which propelled Arsenal to the top of the table, most could only recall Manuel Neuer’s save from the spot kick.
Apologies to Tottenham fans here, but there is absolutely no way that Ozil can be placed in the same disappointing bracket as the likes of Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado this season. Spurs’ record signing was last spotted at White Hart Lane back in December and is presumably still doing keepy-uppies in another local park, whilst the £26 million Spanish striker has lost his place in the starting lineup to youngster Harry Kane.
Despite these criticisms, Ozil clearly retains the confidence of his manager. Arsene Wenger recently predicted that the German will be a strong contender for the Player of the Year award next season having adapted to the Premier League in the current campaign. The Frenchman confidently claimed that the “improvement will be in goals, assists and his presence in the game.”
There are a number of high profile signings that have flopped in the Premier League this season. The aformentioned Spurs duo, Marouane Fellaini, Dani Osvaldo. Ozil may not have lived up to the astronomic levels of expectation that greeted his arrival but that does not mean he deserves to be placed among such poor company.