Arsene Wenger believes Mesut Ozil will be among the Premier League's Player of the Season candidates next year.
The Gunners' boss, speaking ahead of his side's crucial Premier League trip to Hull, suggested that the £42.5 million signing will impress critics during his second campaign with the North London outfit, noted by the club's Twitter feed:
Ozil's "jaded period" shrouded the playmaker's debut English season in real criticism. The former Real Madrid player was the symbol of Arsenal's early success, thrusting the Emirates side to the top of the table with confident, creative and classy performances behind Olivier Giroud.
Unfortunately for Ozil, he also embodies Arsenal's recent struggle to land silverware. One of his least inspiring displays came during the Champions League round of 16 second leg with Bayern Munich, after which Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail said, "you wouldn't pay two-bob for him."
Even so, Ozil's five goals and 10 assists during his 32 performances for the Gunners gives Wenger hope. He suggested the big-money signing could feature during Arsenal's trip to the KC Stadium, per the club's Twitter feed:
Arsenal are currently one point ahead of Everton in fourth, a position bolstered by the Toffees' recent 3-2 loss to Crystal Palace. Roberto Martinez's side are preparing for a more difficult final stretch of the season—facing Manchester United, Southampton and Manchester City in their next three games—indicating Wenger's men boast an advantage.
However, the Frenchman isn't taking anything for granted, noted by the club:
Many expected Arsenal to challenge—if not lead—the Premier League's elite after playing such productive football earlier in the campaign. Wenger has acknowledged a number of factors which he believes influenced the dip in form, such as injuries and a lack of confidence, as reported by Miguel Delaney of ESPN FC:
Wenger: "To play well, football, you need to have confidence. And confidence is better if your recent history is good."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) April 17, 2014
Wenger on falling from 1st: "I think we have moved a lot forward. We are considering what happened to us, with injuries, in crucial stage."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) April 17, 2014
A return to form for Ozil would certainly aid Arsenal's quest for Champions League football. His vision and craftiness in possession is something the Gunners have missed in recent times, which suggests that Ozil can ramp up the team's creative output if he re-enters proceedings in a confident manner.
While he has a long way to go before Player of the Season claims can be verified, an excellent run of games during this season's close will see Ozil head into next year with the means to make a consistent difference.