With the new Premier League season just recently getting underway, the pressure is on for Mesut Özil to perform on the pitch.

Three games into their schedule, Arsenal have started slowly, winning just one of their opening matches. Özil didn’t feature in the victory over West Ham, casting more doubt over his future.

The trouble faced by Mesut Özil originated over the summer at the 2018 World Cup. Here, Özil represented his homeland of Germany, and they were tipped by many to go all the way. But they were humiliated, crashing out in the group.

Özil has significantly contributed to the team in the past, with 92 caps and 23 goals over his nine years. However, he was disappointing in Russia, and made the decision to retire from the German national team afterwards. Özil cited racism from the outside media and a lack of protection from within the DFB for his decision, as he lashed out at the president of Germany’s football federation.

Özil was criticized for visiting with the Turkish president Erdogan in May while in London. A photo commemorated the meeting, which also included German Ilkay Gundogan, occurred right before the Turkish election. It was therefore seen by some as an endorsement for Erdogan’s candidacy.

After all, Özil was born in Germany to parents of Turkish descent. That, coupled with Germany’s lacklustre performance at the World Cup, meant many fans used Özil as a scapegoat for the squad’s failure. Özil stated that “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”

Following the World Cup, Özil returned to Arsenal. Things didn’t significantly improve after that, as the Gunners failed to win opening matches against Manchester City and Chelsea. Özil didn’t stand out in the Premier League games, and was pulled in the second half in Arsenal’s loss to Chelsea.

Then, last weekend, Özil was mysteriously absent in the match against West Ham, which ended up being the club’s first victory of the new season. While the only official word regarding his absence was illness, there was reportedly a heated argument earlier in the week between Özil and Emery.

Some say Özil exploded when he learned that he would not be in the starting line-up against West Ham. After starting both of the first two matches, the German expected to play again at the Emirates. According to the claims, Özil refused to play after the row, and may in fact be looking to leave Arsenal.

Others say he simply needs to ‘man up’ and justify his lucrative salary, £300,000 weekly. Whatever it means to ‘man up’ from an illness. Unless some improvement is seen, some think getting rid of Özil is the best move for the club.

Currently, bookmakers are favouring either PSG or Real Madrid as possible new landing spots for Özil. This could be a real problem for Emery and Arsenal who don’t have enough quality players to withstand losing one.

Emery has introduced a new pressing style of play and needs veteran players such as Özil to be on board in helping the squad adapt to the change. Of course, Emery denies all reports regarding the issues with Özil. This situation is still developing and we’ll have to wait and see what his future holds.