Are Real Madrid Missing the Presence of Arsenal Midfielder Mesut Ozil?

Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2014

MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 22:  Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid CF controls the ball during the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy match between Real Madrid CF and Al-Sadd at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on August 22, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

The political situation at Real Madrid means it doesn't necessarily make you a failure if you are deemed surplus to requirements at the club. Take Arjen Robben for example; the Dutch winger was the one of the most consistent performers at the Bernabeu during the 2008/09 season. There was a sense that there was certainly more to come when he was discarded at the end of that campaign.

His first season at Bayern Munich proved that to be the case as he netted 23 goals in 29 starts from a wide position. It seemed with the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema that he was making room on the roster and helping to fund part of the fee.

He can be difficult, but he has proved a useful weapon for the Bavarians. "I'm in love with Arjen!' coach Pep Guardiola has said in jest. "I hope he comes back as soon as possible and keeps his good form," per Yahoo! Sports.

Another player sold in order to balance the books was Mesut Ozil, as the proceeds from his sale went toward the purchase of Gareth Bale. Who is the better player is open to debate, but who best complements the rest of the team is less of a discussion.

His teammates didn't want to see him leave. "Ozil would be the very last player who I would sell from Real Madrid, if it was up to me. I don't understand this," reacted vice-captain Sergio Ramos, via The Daily Mail. Ronaldo reportedly informed his fellow Portuguese internationals of his disdain: "The sale of Ozil is bad news for me. He was the player who best knew my moves in front of goal. I’m angry about Ozil leaving," via The Daily Mail.

It wasn't just the fact that Ozil recorded more assists than anyone else in the top five leagues in Europe, via Michael Cox at ESPN. His clever off-the-ball runs would drag the opposition out of shape and allow his teammates to exploit the space.

With inverted wingers such as Angel Di Maria, Ronaldo and Bale all cutting inside, it can become quite congested. His awareness and movement to move into the position that has just been vacated is completely understated.

The team lacks fluidity at present. The directness of the three aforementioned attackers works when trying to penetrate the opposition, but at times, they require some lateral running. There's an element of less control, which you wouldn't expect with a midfield three that contains both Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso.

This, of course, looks even worse when your normally high-scoring wide men are well below par. Bale looks very much a player that has been out injured, and his lack of a preseason is beginning to show. Ronaldo appeared to have an unusual lack of focus against Espanyolwhich included missing an open goal in the final minutesas it was the eve of the announcement for the Ballon d'Or. This was partly understandable. He had an incredible 11 shots without a goal, with his average prior to the match 7.6, statistics via Who Scored.

The changing formations of Carlo Ancelotti means there might not even have been a place for Ozil within his system for a number of matches, but he would certainly have given an option. Young Spaniard Isco does share a number of his traits, but it's the diagonal reverse motion without possession that few in the world can recreate.

Even Ancelotti now admits, via Daily Express, he could have done with the German playmaker: "I think we made a mistake when we gave him the possibility to leave the club." Madrid's loss has been Arsenal's gain.