Norbert Elgert has overseen the development of a number of top players in Schalke’s youth system since 1996, including a couple of current Gunners.
Mesut Özil and Sead Kolašinac both came through the ranks with Schalke, before joining Arsenal in the last few years. Elgert talked to The Borneo Post earlier this month about when he first watched Mesut play, and why he made the decision to sign the German up.
Norbert explained: “He was playing an under-17 trial here, which I was overseeing as part of a school project. It wasn’t just the way he controlled the ball with great technique, it was the way he could read the game.
“He was always looking where his players were and making good decisions.”
Those two things haven’t changed in the years since that day. Özil’s touch, vision and decision making are still key aspects of his game, even though that doesn’t stop him being berated for other things. For example, supporters regularly point to Özil’s inability to take chances as if that’s one of his main attributes, when it should really be considered as secondary to his creative talents.
But when it comes to reading the game and analysing the positions of his teammates to best create opportunities, Mesut is still on top of his game. The statistics reveal that the number of chances he’s created in the current campaign per 90 minutes have actually increased compared to last season, despite assists falling.
You’d like to think the Arsenal forwards will get it together at some stage, and the two figures will rise and fall at the same rate.
Elgert may have overseen the promotion of a young Mesut Özil to the world stage, helping to turn him into one of the most effective midfield providers around, but neither Elgert nor Özil could have done anything to improve Arsenal’s finishing.