This article was first written in 2015 and we’re re-publishing it now to show how little has changed in the intervening years
When you watch Ozil week in, week out, it’s easy to appreciate his ability and his intrinsic value to this Arsenal team, but our number eleven has found it difficult to convince those outside of Arsenal of his talents. The question is why?
Individual honours are usually won by players who like to be the centre of attention. When you think of Messi, Ronaldo, Alexis, Hazard and (at a lower level) Harry Kane, one thing they all have in common is they like to be on the end of chances, they like to be the ones making the obvious difference.
It’s hard to think of player more opposed to this approach than Ozil.
When off the ball, he makes clearing runs to create space for others and drifts wide to allow others to ghost through the centre. When the opposition have possession he is focussed, not on individual ball-winning, but on the collective team approach to closing off passing lanes and denying options.
And when he’s in possession of the football, Ozil is equally selfless. He takes the old Brian Clough saying, “Give it to someone better than you,” and transforms it into “Give it to someone better placed than you.”