Ozil agent launches defence of under-fire midfielder

Football Soccer - Bayern Munich v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - 15/2/17 Arsenal's Mesut Ozil warms up before the match Reuters / Michaela Rehle/ Livepic/ Files

(Reuters) - Mesut Ozil's agent has come out in defence of the Arsenal midfielder, saying the player's languid body language is often mistaken for a perceived lack of effort and disputing claims that the German does not perform in big games.

Following anonymous displays in recent defeats to Watford and Chelsea, Ozil did little to deflect the fierce criticism after putting in a timid performance in Arsenal's 5-1 Champions League last-16 first-leg loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

"I don't agree that Mesut has not had an impact on big matches. What about the win at home to Chelsea this season and Manchester United the year before?" Erkut Sogut told the BBC.

"What about the games for Germany against Italy and France at Euro 2016? People are always saying Mesut is not fighting or tackling, that he has poor body language, but that is how he is. Believe me, he is desperate to succeed.

"If it doesn't work, he shows his anger and expressions. Was his body language an issue when Arsenal were playing well? He is not someone who runs around aimlessly and tackles just so everyone thinks he is fighting."

Ozil, whose Arsenal deal runs out at the end of next season, has reportedly been locked in protracted negotiations with the club but talks over a new contract have stalled.

Sogut, however, insisted his player remains fully focused.

"I don't think the criticism has affected his performance or his mental state," the agent added.

"Mesut is committed to the club. There is no doubt that he will perform at 100 percent, with total professionalism and commitment as long as he plays for Arsenal. Nothing will change that."

Arsenal next visit non-league Sutton United in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday.

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru)