Real Madrid’s 24-year-old German international Mesut Özil is one of the most creative playmakers in world football.
His pass-first approach to playing the game means he is a goal scorer’s dream teammate—just ask Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuaín, Miroslav Klose and Mario Gómez.
However, Özil hasn’t been playing at a world-class standard for Real Madrid this season.
This article will explore the possibility that his form has been affected by José Mourinho’s tough loving.
|Shots Created Per Game||2.9||1.5|
|Successful Pass %||87.1||87.7|
|Successful Through Ball %||54.1||25|
|Successful Long Ball %||67.9||47.1|
|Average Passes Per Game||46.8||35.6|
This La Liga season, Mesut Özil has only provided a solitary assist. A total of 31 players in the league have created more goals than Real Madrid's No. 10.
The main concern is Özil's successful through ball completion rate has decreased by 29.1 percent. It explains why his shots created per game output has essentially been cut in half.
Yet, his form for Germany has been world-class—five goals and six assists in his last 11 games.
In a 4-4 draw against Sweden, he scored and provided four shots for his teammates.
In the 6-1 win over the Republic of Ireland, he scored, created a goal and produced six key passes.
Mesut Özil recently told kicker (via ESPN FC): "The coach [José Mourinho] knows what I am capable of. And I am thankful he's put confidence in me."
A classic example of toeing the line.
Getting subbed off at halftime against Sevilla and Deportivo La Coruña is not a sign that the manager is confident in you.
In El Clásico, Özil started and provided the incisive pass for Cristiano Ronaldo to score (once again).
What is Mourinho doing? These mind games have clearly affected Özil's productivity for Los Blancos.
He's a world-class creative midfielder, who needs to start week in, week out.
With 49 assists in his last two seasons for Real Madrid, you'd presume the German has earned the right to be one of the first names on Mourinho's team sheets.
Juan Ignacio García-Ochoa at Marca noted:
Mourinho's actions led Özil to feel that he was being singled out but, far from going easy on the playmaker, the Portuguese coach continued to tighten the screw, making him train with the other subs in the days after the match—treatment the German was far from used to.
Against Deportivo, good friend Sergio Ramos, who has had run-ins with Mourinho in the past, publicly protested the German's substitution by wearing the No. 10 shirt underneath his own.
Ramos then attempted to backtrack by saying he wore Özil's shirt for good luck (via ESPN FC). Yeah, right.
When Real Madrid were beaten by Sevilla, José Mourinho was candid with the state of his team (via ESPN FC):
I worry about my team. That is my concern rather than points. At this moment I have no team. It is about a state of mind and of two or three who aren't thinking like the rest. They are the minds of players which are not committed and for whom football is not a priority in their lives.
Focus on the following: "It is about a state of mind and of two or three who aren't thinking like the rest."
Three days later, Mourinho benched Sergio Ramos and Mesut Özil against Manchester City. Therefore, one can assume that those two players are in his bad books.
Players who alienate Mourinho generally are frozen out.
I have to admit that in the heat of our confrontation I did actually threaten Mourinho about what would happen if he ever went to Romania. In a moment of total madness, I almost hit him, too.
Chuck in a substance abuse problem and Mutu was out of London in a flash.
Adriano, Julio Cruz and Mario Balotelli all acted out of line and all received the cold shoulder from Mourinho.
Whatever problem he has with Özil, the Portuguese manager needs to swallow his pride.
Who is the best player at Real Madrid? Cristiano Ronaldo.
Who combines with him the best? Özil.
There's the No. 1 reason why the German should start every game.