German midfielder Mesut Özil has hit back at the growing chorus of criticism directed towards him from both the German media and supporters. The Arsenal midfielder is coming off a stop-start first season in England after being discarded by Real Madrid following the signing of Welshman Gareth Bale. Expectations were high for the midfielder upon his move to North London, but inconsistency haunted him all season.
Speaking to Bild Magazine Özil said:
“I am no longer a talent but an experienced player who has played in three countries. I take responsibility. The FA Cup win means that I have won three finals,” he told Sport Bild. “I was voted Germany player of the year three times running and in the team of the year in England – always by the fans. And that is also important to me.”
I feel that I have the trust of Joachim Löw and Arsène Wenger and that I have earned it, I am now 25 years old and at that age every footballer in the world plays in a different way to what he did when he was 21. And, of course, my role at Arsenal is different insomuch that I have more responsibility than I did at Real. And I like that”
Bursting onto the global scene at World Cup 2010, Özil was the sensation that stirred the German drink. He set up as the focal point of the attack bringing the best out of Thomas Müller, Miroslav Klose and current Arsenal teammate Lukas Podolski. But in Euro 2012, the influence of Özil declined and he was completely ineffective in a 2-1 loss to Italy in the semifinal despite converting a late penalty. After some rocky times at Real Madrid and an inconsistent season at Arsenal his place was no longer assured in Germany’s starting XI.
Following last week’s injury to Marco Reus, the importance of Özil is magnified for Jogi Löw’s German side. It is imperative that if Germany is to contend for the World Cup title that the midfield is clicking on all cylinders. Being one of the few key players for Germany who has played regularly in the last year and not faced a long-term injury concerns, Özil must step up in the biggest way possible.
Germany opens World Cup Group G play against Portugal on Monday June 16.