Liam Brady, Robert Pires, Marc Overmars.

Over the years at Arsenal we’ve have had our fair share of incredible attacking midfielders.

Players who can envision a pass, which many – not even Gary Neville with an oversized touch screen – can pick out.

Players who, when they come onto the pitch, can completely change the direction of the game.

They are the type of players you watch, even when they don’t have the ball at their feet, just to witness them somehow finding space in areas impossibly congested with opposition defenders and creating goals from thin air.

Exciting players that can make the tiny hairs at the back of your neck stand up as they surge forward.

The Playmaker.

The jam on top of Arsenal’s already freshly baked bread and organic M&S butter.

All of them outstanding. All of them the type of player whose name you’d want printed on the back of your shirt.

Could we have now found our best one yet?

We signed Mesut Ozil, Mesut Ozil

In September 2013, on the final day of a summer transfer window, which was filled with the usual crippling emptiness and despair that transfer windows inflict on Arsenal fans (or at least used to), Arsenal signed German international and Real Madrid star: Mesut Ozil.

It’s something I still can’t quite believe.

Although there’d been whispers, mainly via the ever-reliable Twitter, linking us to the then 24-year-old playmaker a couple of times, and my brain often treated the speculation very much the same as it treated Alexis Sanchez’s a year later.

I didn’t get my hopes up, assuming we’d never even think of paying the money we were rumoured to be spending and shut the hope down.

Until that fateful night before the final day of the window.

That night my Twitter feed felt very much like the inside of my head and I couldn’t keep up with everyone excitedly chatting.

There was a buzz amongst Arsenal fans which I’ll never forget.

I was frantically refreshing every sports news site I could find, flicking between news channels, searching ‘Ozil to Arsenal’ anywhere I could.

The fact that we didn’t manage to somehow screw it the deal up is still a mystery to me.

Since the move, even Real Madrid’s manager Carlo Ancelotti seems to have woken up and publically admitted how detrimental getting rid of such an intelligent football player can be.

Not that we’re complaining, of course.

Ozil under the microscope

Ozil went on to become one of the most heavily scrutinised players in the Premier League.

His hefty price tag automatically made him the subject of criticism and his loose, chilled demeanour prompted pundits and opposition fans to accuse him of being lazy and disinterested.

He answered his critics withhis football and his stats on the pitch that showed a player who was far from bored.

In his first season for Arsenal, he got 11 assists and six goals in 33 appearances in the Champions League and Premier League (he also scored a goal against Everton during our FA Cup campaign).

This is despite being out of action towards the end of the season with a hamstring injury. Not bad for a player who’s “nicking a living”.

Unlucky Ozil

Unfortunately, a three-month-long knee injury has kept the German side-lined for most of this season so far and his introduction back into the first team has, understandably, been gradual and steady.

His first start came against Brighton in the FA Cup, where he even scored to help us to victory.

On Sunday against Villa he made his first start in the Premier League since that fateful day at Stamford Bridge and not only scored but assisted Olivier Giroud’s goal.

A lot of emphasis is put on scoring goals and rightfully so – they win you games – but Ozil’s assists, no matter how nonchalant he may look when delivering them, are nigh-on ingenious.

Sunday’s beautiful, instinctive flick was just one example of Ozil’s creativity and ability to pick out a pass as if it’s second nature to him.

Better than all the rest?

It isn’t even just about his stats, which alone are impressive.

Ozil stands out in a league that is currently bursting at the seams with quality playmakers from around the world.

The Premier League is now a coveted destination for the modern player. Modern football is all about the attack; the counter, pace; the final ball.

Although it stands to reason that a balance needs to be struck between a solid defence and exhilarating attack for true success, when you’re talking about the game afterwards, it seems far more common to discuss the quality of a particular goal than a clearance or save, unless the latter has been truly amazing.

Numerous football-themed TV shows have a ‘goal of the month’ segment but very few (if any) have a ‘save of the month’ unless something truly seems to defy the laws of physics.

In many ways this is a shame – the robust ‘English’ style of football has developed a European accent – but in others we get to see the likes of Ozil excel and thrive.

In our team alone, we’re spoiled with the likes of Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez who can seemingly conjure a goal or final ball with a click of their fingers.

Does an attacking player have to be better now than they used to be in order to ‘make it’ in the Premier League?

It’s my personal opinion that they don’t – players like Thierry Henry who joined us for a brief loan spell in 2012 are a testament to that – but it’s an interesting notion nonetheless.

It’s a competitive league; arguably more competitive than even 10 years ago. There’s now more pressure for playmakers to be creating chances every match from start to finish. Have a bad game and you could be dropped to the bench; have a bad half-a-season and you run the risk of being sold.

Ozil turns it on for almost every match.

He’s fascinating to watch both on and off the ball and although his movement can appear languid, when you watch the runs he makes – his eyes constantly darting in different directions, always trying to find the right pass – it’s hard to believe anyone could consider him sub-par.

In fact, I’m pretty sure anyone who doesn’t like watching Ozil play is the footballing equivalent of the Grinch.

Another exciting prospect is Ozil’s age.

At just 26, he’s not even reached his ‘peak’ yet.

A year younger than Pires was when he signed for us, it’s difficult not to draw similarities between the two.

Does this mean that Ozil has the time and potential to be better?

Better than Le Bob?

Ultimately, does a combination of the league being – arguably – more competitive, as well as Ozil being younger, mean he could be the best playmaker we’ve ever had?

Or at least develop into one?

Obviously, it’s too early to tell.

The bloke has a few more years in him before we can truly start comparing him the Le Bob.

Also, that’s assuming that our very own Cazorla, Alexis or even Jack Wilshere don’t overtake him.

At this stage it’s hard to tell but, as with numerous other aspects of our team right now, it’s an exciting prospect.

The quality is there and, despite what others say, I believe the desire is there too.