The Mesut Ozil myth has finally been exposed.
After years of listening to football ‘experts’ telling us the Germany World Cup winner was too clever for us untrained football observers to appreciate, Arsenal fans who were quick to sign up to the Gospel according to Mesut have slowly and painfully come to the conclusion that the player they have invested so much faith in is, in fact, not even close to being their saviour.
The ‘Ozilites’ appreciate their Messiah is not what they thought he was and even if some of them are clinging on to the belief that his genius is merely in hibernation after a miserable season in Arsenal colours, the last few months have dented his reputation to a point where a recovery may only take place away from his current employers.
For a player of his standing in the game, Ozil has been woeful this season and while his dip in form has become more evident in recent weeks, his remaining supporters are dwindling in numbers as an unpleasant reality has dawned.
Of course, there will be some who will forever promote Ozil as the footballing Picasso with genius oozing from his boots. These dreamers see the 28-year-old as the game changer who can produce brilliance the rest can’t even imagine, a delicate fantasist only game’s purists need to appreciate.
“I don’t care what the stats say and whether he is high in the passing lists or the assists lists, but I look at Ozil and I think he is a great player,” former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson told Yahoo Sport UK last month.
“Stats are over-rated in my view because you only need one pass or one big of brilliance to change a game and Ozil can deliver that. I’m a big fan, even though I accept the criticism that he needs to turn up in the big games a little bit more often. I think he is top drawer. You pay a lot of money and you get that kind of quality.
“His wavelength is a step ahead of the others in that Arsenal team. He is on medium wave and a lot of the other players are still tuned into some crackling, dodgy pirate radio station. That is a problem, but watch Arsenal player and quickly you realise that only two players are on the same wavelength.
“When Ozil gets the ball, he looks for Alexis Sanchez and that works the other way as well. They know that they are on the same level and it stands out a mile sometimes.”
— Alan Brazil (@SportsBreakfast) February 15, 2017
The alternative version of Ozil is less appealing, with his critics eager to highlight his unfortunate trick of disappearing in games when the going gets tough.
That charge has been thrown his way again in recent days, with Ozil failing to deliver when Arsenal needed him most in recent defeats against Watford and Chelsea and yet we should not be surprised that this divisive footballer has gone missing when the chips are down.
Watching Ozil blend into the scenery from the press box at Stamford Bridge a couple of weeks ago was the final nail in a reputation of a player whose brilliance is more evident when Ludogorets or equally insignificant opposition are thrown into his path.
The trouble is, when top tier opponents line up against Arsenal, Ozil goes missing time and again.
Wenger has admitted his club record signing is ‘lacking confidence’, while also doing his best to prop up a player who has produced statistics that do not justify his A-list status since his £42.4m move from Real Madrid in the summer of 2013.
His haul of 20 goals from 105 Premier League is hardly in the Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes class, yet his defence council will tell us that goal scoring is not Ozil’s primary role.
They would argue his silky passing qualities single him out from the pack, but their man does not make the top ten of Premier League passers so far this campaign, with that list currently topped by Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson (2059 passes), closely followed by Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (1787).
Meanwhile, Ozil has built a reputation for being the king of assists, but he has made just four contributions in that category this term. That puts him well behind Premier League assist leader Kevin De Bruyne, who has had nine assists with Manchester City, as well as Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and West Bromwich Albion’s Matt Phillips who have created eight goals this season.
It is almost as if supporters of this over-rated performer promote the idea that anyone who doesn’t appreciate his brilliance lack knowledge of the game. Any bad news is fake news, as US President Donald Trump tells us, with Wenger acting as chief propagandist for his dream player Ozil.
Yet that could be where Arsenal and their manager have been going wrong for too long now.
Instead of lauding Ozil as a legend of the modern game, maybe we should all appreciate that a player whose produces flashes of brilliance when the mood takes him is a luxury player Arsenal could do without.
Wenger has admitted that his club will ‘need a good bank’ if they are to keep Ozil as negotiations over his new Arsenal continue to stall, with his vast social media reach that includes around 55 million followers inflating his value to potential employers.
Yet while the German haggles over a new deal that could shatter Arsenal’s wage structure, a worrying conclusion may soon be drawn.
Never mind shattering the Arsenal wage structure to keep Ozil. Letting him leave while he is still has a respectable transfer value may be the best option for Arsenal as they look to a future without one of the players who has been holding them back.