Bernd Leno has become the latest Arsenal person to give his opinion on Mesut Ozil and his situation.
You all know the story with Mesut Ozil by now. You don’t need me to keep repeating myself and if, by some miracle, you’ve been living in blissful ignorance for most of 2020, you can catch up here.
Bernd Leno, currently on international duty with Germany took the chance to speak about his teammate or, more likely, he was asked about him. His praise was not slight.
“Mesut is still a part of the team and trains with us,” Leno told BILD. “He is absolutely professional, both on the pitch and in the dressing room.
“Obviously it’s a disappointing situation for him, but Mesut handles it well and is absolutely loyal.”
That, of course, makes the claims that Ozil is lazy in training look somewhat dubious. It is a claim that falls apart when you realise how many others have also said the same thing.
George Graham has added his voice to the growing list of former Arsenal men critical of the club’s treatment of Mesut Ozil.
Graham told talkSPORT: “It’s very difficult. The first thing you say is, ‘who is the person who sorted the contract?’
“Did the rest of the board see that contract and agree to it? That was a bad decision.
“We’ve got to try and get rid of him and pay half his wages if he goes to another club, but even then it’s too expensive.
“He’s got to be in a team that’s dominating games and he’s got to be on the ball as much as possible.
“Without the ball… just no. He is definitely lacking, not even at the top level. Without the ball he’s not good enough. With the ball he can be good enough, but he has to be in a good team.
“He was up and down like a yo-yo under Arsene Wenger. He obviously isn’t playing into the new manager’s style.
“You play when you’ve got the ball but you also play when you haven’t got possession. He’s just not up to the standard that Arteta wants.”
That last point isn’t actually true, despite what is regularly claimed.
Arteta selected Ozil for every one of his games before the lockdown (except the very first), he was creating more chances than anyone else in the squad AND was working harder than we’ve ever seen him. Arteta, who played with Ozil, arrived claiming he wanted to build his team around the German.
Then came the break, the request to take a paycut, and the subsequent fall-out.
Lukas Podolski is not impressed with how the club have handled the Mesut Ozil situation, becoming the latest former player to hit out at Arsenal.
Speaking to Bild, the former striker who was a real fan favourite with Gooners said, “I don’t know what happened but I generally think that putting aside a player who has been at the club for six-seven years is not correct.
“We cannot do that, even if something has happened.
“He [Ozil] showed his class on and off the field. He never had negative behaviour with the club. It’s sad because everyone loses in this story. Arsenal have failed to handle the situation in recent months.”
A number of reasons have been given for Arsenal treating Ozil the way they have but few have stood up in light of comments from other players and coaches.
Just this week, Thierry Henry said, “First it was Unai Emery and now Mikel Arteta. It is not easy to succeed Arsene Wenger. Not at all easy.
“With Mikel, I see that the passion is back, a certain joy, he contributes with stability.
“Now he has to solve the situation with Özil and other things, but it does not happen overnight.”
Laurent Koscielny explains what Mesut Ozil is like in training
Mesut Ozil is reportedly not playing football for Arsenal because he’s not showing enough in training but that’s not what most people say about him.
It seems fairly clear at this point that Mesut Ozil is being punished for refusing to blindly accept a pay cut at Arsenal.
The narrative that has been constructed was an easy one to build given it’s a line the UK media have been hammering since Ozil first arrived in England.
Anyone who has played or worked with Ozil, however, sings a very different tune.
Take former club captain, Laurent Koscielny, for instance.
“We’re both part of the ‘Arsene Wenger Generation’,” Kos told L’Equipe (via SportWitness).
“The coach loved him as a player. It was more complicated with Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta.
“Knowing him, he must always be professional in training, always on time. He is undoubtedly at the level demanded by the Premier League. There is probably a certain case with the club since last year, I hope both sides find a deal that works for everyone.
“He is a competitor. I hope to see him back on the pitch soon, at Arsenal or elsewhere, because he is real talent.
“As a man, he’s a very good person, who got along with all his teammates. He gave a lot, helped sick children. He is a generous person, with whom I got along very well. As a player, he is in my opinion a phenomenon. He can find passes that no one sees, he’s a maestro. He can rock a game with incredible passes.”
Add that to the comments below from a former Arsenal coach and see how neither lineup with what the club are currently trying to tell us.
Arsenal coach says Mesut Ozil is best player he’s seen in training
On the Totally Football Show in November 2019, BBC journalist Lynsey Hooper told a story of overhearing an Arsenal coach discussing Mesut Ozil in training.
Mesut Ozil in training has been the subject of lengthy debate. Without any evidence he has often been described as being lazy and disinterested. In fact, what little evidence there is tends to fly in the face of this assertion.
Lynsey: I was sat in the Wonder Cafe, do you know, the one right opposite Arsenal Stadium?
Of course, members of staff come in there, coaching staff, and I was on a reporting day the one day, eavesdropping, and one of the coaching staff was singing the praises of Mesut Özil to the rafters saying he was the best player he’d seen up close in training.
And this is a coach. This is someone that’s with him every day. And because…somebody on the same table sort of, raised the question, you know, is his workrate a problem? Is it that he’s too lazy? He went, “anyone who thinks that, isn’t across what Mesut Özil’s about. That isn’t the sort of player he is. But if you look at his technical skill and all of these other factors that he brings to Arsenal”, he said, “he’s one of the best players he’s ever seen”.
Jimbo: D’you know, if it wasn’t you, Lynsey, I’d nominate that for ‘Didn’t Happen of the Year Award’, ‘cause that’s such a perfect conversation to eavesdrop on…
Lynsey: No, I did, yeah.
Jimbo: …”I was there! And two Arsenal staff members…and one said…”
Duncan: Was one of the Arsenal staff members Mesut Özil?
Lynsey: No, I don’t think the other one was a staff member. One was because he was fully kitted up but I think he’d met maybe with some friends and they were just asking different bits? But yeah, I was there for some hours. They know me well in that cafe.
Jimbo: Do they? Ok. You didn’t lean in and join the conversation?
Lynsey: I felt like, I had my Premier League jacket on, so it was enough of a warning to say, you know, I’m sat on the next table if I want to listen.