Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that he did not recognise the Mesut Ozil we saw at this summers World Cup in Russia.
Gunners playmaker Ozil and Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gündogan were embroiled in controversy before the tournament even started, thanks to their decision to pose for photos with controversial Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
Wenger believes that the criticism both players received from both German fans and the press alike caused Ozil to play without the freedom he needs to express himself best and have a positive impact on games:
“I know Ozil well, he’s an exceptional football player. Him and Gundogan suffered with what happened before the World Cup because they have been vindicated in Germany, ” he told beIN Sports.
“Ozil is a guy who needs support, he doesn’t need controversy.
“When I watched him play, I could feel there were situations in the game where he could have moved forward, progressed and played more vertical. He played with security.
“I was thinking come on, that is not the real Ozil I know, the guy who can kill.
“He played alright, but he didn’t play with complete freedom and played with the handbrake on this World Cup.
“Gundogan didn’t even play at all and he’s a great player.”
Reigning World Champions Germany were surprisingly dumped out in the group stages, and Ozil’s father has since urged his son to quit international football altogether to avoid being made a scapegoat in his homeland.