One of the players Arsenal fans love to complain about the most when things are going poorly for them is Mesut Ozil, the mercurial German midfielder who, into his fifth and perhaps final season at the club, has still failed to deliver on the promise he arrived with from Real Madrid.
Ozil, at least the perception of him and his performances, goes hand in hand with everything said about Arsenal under Arsene Wenger in recent years. Soft, disappears in big matches, and simply not good enough to take the club to another level.
On the surface, Ozil has pretty good numbers: 32 goals and 57 assists in 164 matches for the club. Nothing earth shattering, but a solid ratio of goals+assists per match. As you can see by the graphic below, he has been the most productive passer in the Premier League since joining Arsenal (the stats above are for all matches with the team). He has also helped Arsenal to win three FA Cups, playing a crucial part along the way.
Ozil’s contract runs out at the end of the season. As far as managing his club’s long term stability, like other things, Wenger has done a horrendous job. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a lot of demand for Ozil’s talent during the summer, at least not something that leaked to the press. If Arsenal and the World champion with Germany don’t sort out a renewal, he’ll be available for nothing in January. Even if he isn’t the hottest commodity around, there will be plenty of teams trying to sign him.
The bottom line about Ozil is difficult to assert. In my opinion, he’s the kind of player that thrives with talent and a healthy environment around him, but he won’t be the one to pull a team out of a difficult stretch, just like Arsenal are in now. His play for Germany suggests he isn’t as soft and lazy as many like to attribute to him, but that perception is likely something that will follow him around for the rest of his career, whether with Arsenal or somewhere else.