Blog by: Shamir
A crowd of nearly 20,000 gathered at the Santiago Bernabeu to witness the highly awaited unveiling of their latest Galactico. But Gareth Bale wasn’t the only one about which the fans were singing praises.
The chants of “Özil no se vende! Özil no se vende!“(Ozil not for sale!) could be heard all afternoon, much to the dismay of Madrid President Florentino Perez. That vociferous expression of discontent though, fell on deaf ears as just hours later, Mesut Ozil confirmed his 42.5 million GBP move to Arsenal.
The repercussions of the shock move are still being felt in the footballing world, and many believe that Arsenal may well have pulled off the transfer signing of the season.
There are statistics, data and simple rationality that make Ozil’s sale seem more baffling than it already is. The German playmaker has been one of the most devastatingly consistent players in Europe over the past few years, and as Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas states – he has been Real Madrid’s second best player after Cristiano Ronaldo.
But footballing logic and monetary muscle aside, we take a look at just why splashing the cash on Ozil might be the best decision Arsene Wenger ever made.
Mesut Ozil’s performances have consistently caught the eyes of scouts in Europe since 2006, after he broke into the Germany U-19 squad. He scored 4 times in 11 fixtures, and maintained that streak as he made the move up to the U-21 squad, scoring 5 times in 16 games.
After falling out with the management of his hometown club Schalke, Ozil made the move to Werder Bremen, where he helped the team to the UEFA Cup finals (which they lost against Shakhtar Donetsk). Bremen also bagged the 2009 DFB Pokal Cup, beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in the finals, with Ozil scoring the lone goal of the game.
Even though the league campaign ended disappointingly for Bremen, Ozil stood out with his performances, scoring 3 times and providing 15 assists as the North German club finished 10th.
In June 2009, in the U-21 European Championship final, Ozil was voted Man of the Match in a 4-0 destruction of England in the final. In his next season, he contributed 9 goals and 17 assists as Bremen managed to capture a highly impressive 3rd place finish.
Ozil’s performances by now had caught the fancy of club sides across Europe, and his reputation increased tenfold after a scintillating 2010 World Cup campaign for Germany. He was amongst the top assists provider in the tournament (3), as he went on to be nominated for the Golden Ball award and also featured in the Euro 2012 team of the tournament.
Not surprisingly, his performances earned him a switch to Real Madrid, after strong interest from Manchester United, Barcelona and Arsenal.
Ozil showed his class and consistency in his first season, providing an astounding 25 assists, the highest for any player in Europe that season. The next season, Jose Mourinho handed Ozil the number 10 shirt, explicitly declaring his faith in making the German midfielder Madrid’s primary playmaker.
Ozil did not disappoint as his 17 assists (highest in La Liga that season) helped Madrid to the league title. He was nominated for UEFA Best Player in Europe award, and was the youngest player in the top 10 list.
In the lead up to Euro 2012, Ozil scored 5 times and provided 7 assists, the highest by any European international in the qualifying campaign, to help Germany win 10 out of their 10 games. He was also voted their best international player for 2011, and went on to earn 2 Man of the Match awards as he provided 3 assists in the tournament.
In the season after that, Ozil once again displayed his masterclass as he went on to grab a jaw dropping 26 assists, beating every other player in the La Liga that season.
Jose Mourinho said about Ozil, “Ozil is unique. There is no copy of him, not even a bad copy.” He went on to say, “Everyone loves him and sees a bit Zidane and Figo in him. He will create history at Real Madrid.”
Ozil’s technical statistics from last season also indicate a massive blunder on Real Madrid’s part, to let go of arguably one of the best playmakers in world football.
For example, from 2008-2013, Ozil has provided 72 assists, the highest in Europe, and 4 clear of Lionel Messi with 68. In this period, Ozil has also created 492 chances, a good way ahead of the next contender, Chelsea’s Juan Mata (429).
Gareth Bale himself does not possess a statistical advantage over Ozil, as over the last season, the German has trumped him in almost all tactical attributes.
Since August 2010, Bale has completed 3443 passes at a successful pass percentage of 79.15% while Ozil has 4334 passes at 85.65%. Ozil has also created more chances (323 against Bale’s 212), has more assists (a massive 47 to Bale’s 15), a better dribble completion ratio (46.85% to Bale’s 38.83%) and a better successful cross ratio (28.83% to Bale’s 23.43%).
Does the 86 million GBP acquisition really justify the sale of a 42.5 million GBP midfield genius?
The Real Madrid dressing room certainly thinks otherwise. Cristiano Ronaldo was clearly disturbed as he said, “He was the player who knew my moves in front of goal. I’m angry about Ozil leaving.”
Sergio Ramos tweeted a picture of Ozil’s last Madrid shirt, and said, “Ozil would be the very last player I would sell from Madrid. I don’t understand this.”
The Arsenal dressing room on the other hand have been elated with their new arrival, Jack Wilshere describing his transfer as “the signing of the summer.”
Arsenal’s Ozil deal looks to be the best bit of business that Arsenal has done in years. With the “King of the assist” and his remarkable consistency in their ranks, Arsenal might just have an entirely different attacking dimension to their game this season.
Will the pass master continue to mesmerize amidst the rigors of the English game? 14th of September couldn’t come any sooner for the Gunners faithful, to watch the German genius ply his trade.