Former Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker has said he can understand why fans are sometimes frustrated at Mesut Ozil but described the playmaker as a "genius."
Ozil's performances for the Gunners, particularly in their biggest games, have been scrutinised by supporters and pundits alike—as have his frequent absences from the side.
Per Daniel Matthews of the Daily Mail, when asked whether he can understand the fans' perspective, Mertesacker said:
"Yeah because probably they don't understand him.
"I know how to take him and how to try to pinch him when needed. But ultimately it has to come from him if he wants to go to the next level. But he can deliver.
"He loves playing football. It doesn't come across so often. He is a genius in terms of what he can produce with the ball, and you can see that in every training session.
"He thinks he plays in the park. He can deliver that ball that no one else can deliver. He has got that magical sense."
The German also recalled an argument between the pair in 2013. Mertesacker, captain of the Gunners at the time, gave Ozil a dressing down when his compatriot did not want to thank the travelling Arsenal support following a 6-3 defeat at Manchester City.
Mertesacker said the incident left him "really pissed" for weeks, and at times he had difficulties accepting Ozil is a "different character."
Ozil has made 231 appearances for Arsenal since his arrival from Real Madrid, returning 43 goals and 74 assists.
Only Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne has reached 50 Premier League assists quicker:
According to Goal's Charles Watts, the Gunners were hoping to offload him in the summer, though:
The playmaker's form left much to be desired for most of last season, in which he produced just three assists.
He has yet to feature for Arsenal this season. He was left out of the Gunners' opening fixture with Newcastle United amid ongoing security concerns after he and Sead Kolasinac were attacked at knifepoint in July.
The following week, he sat out a clash with Burnley because of illness, a recurring issue with Ozil as ESPN's Alex Shaw noted:
According to Transfermarkt, Ozil has missed 49 matches through illness or injury during his time at Arsenal.
His frequent absences do little to alleviate the perception held in some quarters that he does not work hard enough for the side.
The 30-year-old has two years remaining on the contract he signed in January last year, which made him the Gunners' highest-paid player.
His wages will likely prove a stumbling block to Arsenal's attempts to offload him, but it would come as little surprise if he were to move on in January or next summer while the club is still able to bring in a fee for him.
In the meantime, he can be a match-winner for them if he can rediscover his form.