An enigma is a person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand. Mesut Ozil does not fit this correctly, but the similarities have become more apparent in recent years. When he signed for Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013, many considered the signing to be a coup for the Gunners. Ozil was a world class attacking midfielder who could have taken Arsenal over the finishing line. While the German’s class and ability have never been in question, his value to the Arsenal side has certainly been a talking point in recent years.
Arsenal shelled out £42.5 million to sign Ozil from Real in the summer of 2013. He was the Gunners’ record signing, and the expectations were high. Real were offloading him to accommodate world record signing Gareth Bale. Ozil was brilliant in his three years at the Bernabeu, recording 19 goals and 47 assists in the league in those three seasons. Barring one season, Ozil has failed to reach those heights in the Premier League.
One of the hurdles Ozil has faced in the Premier League is continuous injury issues. He has not come forward as a durable player by any means. In the six seasons, he has been at Arsenal; he has made more than 25 Premier League appearances in a season just two times. Last season that number dropped to a mere 20. Ozil reportedly earns £350,000 per week at Arsenal. Missing vast chunks of the season is not justified from the club’s standpoint considering the wage.
His output on the pitch has also not been up to the standard. Last season Ozil had just two assists in the Premier League. He did lead the Gunners in chances created per game, but they did not translate into anything meaningful. Manager Unai Emery has not been particularly happy with Ozil’s displays, more importantly, with his work rate without the ball.
Ozil poses a significant problem for Emery about the formation. Ozil’s talent and ability on the ball are never in doubt, but he has not fit in perfectly in any of the formations Emery has tried. The duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have started a majority of the games for Arsenal. Playing Ozil, along with them, is a tough fit for Emery. Lacazette and Aubameyang combined for 39 league goals for Arsenal last season. Arguably that duo is more valuable than Ozil to Emery. When you add the astronomical wages which Ozil gets, he does seem like a luxury at this moment.
Ozil is 30 years old now, entering the twilight of his career. Given his talent and ability, there will be a situation where he can be utilized better. One thing is for sure; Arsenal is not the best situation for him. Emery could continue to partially play him like he did last season, which is not ideal. Or, he could look at potential buyers and revamp the rest of his squad in the process.