Since joining Arsenal from Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, Mesut Ozil has come in for a lot of stick for not performing to what his £42.4 million price tag suggest he might.
A lot was expected from the German playmaker, but he failed to light up the Premier League in the way fans expected him to.
However, this term Ozil looks like he’s adjusted fully to life in England, scoring once and providing 10 assists for his team-mates.
He has developed an understanding with Frenchman Olivier Giroud and the brilliant Alexis Sanchez to force Arsenal into title contention.
Shoot looks at the 27-year-old’s career, including his successes and the obstacles he’s had to overcome……
Where did it all begin?
The German was born in Gelsenkirchen but could have played for Turkey due to his grandfather being born there.
He played for numerous youth teams around the area before signing for Schalke 04 in 2005. He made an immediate impact for his new club, featuring in games against Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen.
However, after failing to agree personal terms on a new contract, as he felt he deserved more than Schalke offered, he fell out with the management and moved to Werder Bremen.
What was next for Ozil?
Dubbed “the next big thing” in German football, he moved for just £4m. Making 71 appearances, he developed a tag of becoming a key assister within the squad, but he could also find the net.
Ozil led Bremen to the 2009 DFB-Pokal, scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Leverkusen, before the following season helping Bremen reach the final again, where they were thrashed 4-0 by Bayern Munich.
A year after helping his country with the 2009 European U-21 Championship, where they thrashed England 4-0 in the final, he was off to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa just 16 months after making his senior debut.
His performances on the big stage, where Germany reached the semi-finals, earned him a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
During his time in Spain, Ozil was named on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or, and won the club’s 32nd La Liga title. He ended each of his campaigns at the club with the most assists in the league. And despite claiming that he wanted to end his career at the Bernabeu, the German moved to Arsenal in a deal with £42.4 million.
What is so special about him?
Ozil’s amazing vision and ability to put a team-mate through on goal is second to none, which he has proven through his career.
Sometimes criticised for being too lethargic and becoming lost in games, when he does get going he can be unstoppable.
The 27-year-old also has the ability to score important goals, as he showed in the home fixture against Bayern Munich and his last minute free-kick against Borussia Dortmund in his Madrid days.
The fact that his boots are on display at the Bernabeu shows how highly he is rated within football.
What about the World Cup?
He ended Germany’s qualification campaign as the country’s top scorer, bagging eight goals. At the World Cup though, he was played slightly on the left hand side to accommodate all the other talented players in their squad.
He started all seven games and ability to score important goals was highlighted again, as he netted the winner in the 119th minute, as Germany progressed past Algeria in the Round of 16.
The Arsenal midfielder provided two assists during his country’s 7-0 battering of host nation Brazil in the semi-finals, giving Germany the momentum to go on and win the tournament for the first time since 1990 against Argentina.
Stats tell the whole story behind Ozil’s footballing career, as he finished second on chances created in the tournament with 17, only behind the legendary Lionel Messi.
What now for Ozil
After admitting he’s happy at the Emirates, and with English fans starting to appreciate that he’s a top player, Ozil looks set to remain in the Premier League for years to come.
Having made more assists and chances in the Premier League than any other player since 2013, and having created the most chances in Europe this term, Ozil will be looking to continue that form in order to help Arsenal win the title and progress in the Champions League – a competition he is yet to win – over the coming years.
At 27, goals will not, and have never been at the forefront of his mind. He’s a maker of chances, and the stats suggest there’s nobody better at the moment.
With his country, he’ll be aiming to win Euro 2016, adding to his U-21 and World Cup winner’s medals.