Mesut Ozil Absence Could Show His True Value to the Arsenal Team

Nick Miller@NickMiller79Featured ColumnistOctober 13, 2014


Given the criticism he has been subject to in the season-and-a-half since his move to England, it was probably only a matter of time before stories linking Mesut Ozil with a move away from Arsenal emerged in the press.

Rob Shepherd of the Mail Online reported this week that Ozil wants to leave the Emirates, seemingly because he is not being played in his preferred, central position. It is perhaps unlikely that a player of Ozil's calibre and reputation would decide to leave based on a few games being played on the wing, as Gianni Verschueren details elsewhere on Bleacher Report, but such is the nature of newspaper transfer speculation.

In the short term at least, such speculation is moot since Ozil won't be available to Arsenal in the immediate future because of the knee injury that could keep him out for up to three months, as per the Guardian.

At Arsenal, such tales are familiar—arguably, four of their first-choice midfield five (Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott) are out injured, while Danny Welbeck limped out of England's game against Estonia on Sunday, so any other fitness problems are, to say the least, a long way from being ideal.

However, one small positive that might come out of Ozil's absence is that it could provide some clarity on what value the German brings to the Arsenal team.

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Ozil's languid style often attracts criticism in England, and while that criticism is often over the top, few can argue that he has been an unqualified success since joining from Real Madrid. Arsene Wenger might have expected a little more than six goals and 10 assists in 31 Premier League starts from a player who cost £42 million.

Wenger certainly seems satisfied with the German playmaker, though. He said in August, as quoted via John Cross of the Daily Mirror:

People are very harsh with Ozil because he’s a player who’s always very easy on his play but when you watch the game again after, the next day, you see what a player he is. Everything he does is intelligent.

The timing of everything he does is absolutely perfect. You never catch him giving the ball too late. The number of players you catch giving the ball too late is unbelievable. You never get that with Ozil.

It is often said that a player's value is only truly known when he is out, and we might be about to discover whether this is true. Will Arsenal be a more dynamic team with two of Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and, when he returns to fitness, Walcott on each wing? Will this allow Jack Wilshere to effectively perform the No. 10 role that he has often promised to? Will Arsenal look more effective without their record signing?

Or will the hole left by Ozil look more and more gaping by the game? Will everyone in fact realise that the German's work is so understated that it's been greatly undervalued?

Games in the next couple of months against Manchester United, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund will go some way to telling us Ozil's true value to the Arsenal team.

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