Mesut Ozil: Player Profile

Arsenal’s Key To Success

Mesut Ozil is the £42million finished product who could make Arsenal relevant again and who Arsene Wenger believes could be one of the best talents the English Premier League has ever seen.

Mesut Ozil took centre stage at the Stadium of Light and needed just 11 minutes to add to the 73 assists over the last six seasons which have made him the top provider in Europe.

Personal information 

Full name: Mesut Ozil 
Date of birth: 15 October 1988 
Age: 24 
Place of birth: Gelsenkirchen, West Germany 
Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position: Attacking midfielder 

Club information 

Current club: Arsenal 
Number: 11 

Youth career
1995–1998: Westfalia 04 Gelsenkirchen 
1998–1999: Teutonia Schalke-Nord 
1999–2000: Falke Gelsenkirchen 
2000–2005: Rot-Weiss Essen 
2005–2006: Schalke 04 

Senior career 
2006–2008: Schalke 04 39 Appearances, 1 goals
2008–2010: Werder Bremen 106 Appearances, 17 goals
2010–2013: Real Madrid 159 Appearances, 27 goals
2013– Arsenal 3 Appearances, 0 goals

National team
2006–2007 Germany U19 11 Appearances, 4 goals
2007–2009 Germany U21 16 Appearances, 5 goals
2009– Germany 48 Appearances, 14 goals

The Germany international, “the best No.10 in the world” in the eyes of former manager Jose Mourinho, joins a side already well-stocked in graceful, inventive playmakers, but perhaps no one as efficiently ruthless in the final third as the 24-year-old.

Arsenal's run-in last term, despite the plethora of diminutive artisans, was typified by an inability to convert their superior possession into a more commanding scoreline. In five of the Gunners' final six games of the season, they failed to score more than one goal. Against Fulham in April they enjoyed 64 per cent possession but had just three shots on target, while against Everton they enjoyed 55% but produced a measly two shots on target and zero goals. That theme has continued into the new season, with a 3-1 opening-day defeat against Aston Villa accompanied by just four shots on target despite 64% possession. 

Maybe Arsenal need Ozil more than people realize. Though lumped together with the rest of the Gunners' creators, Ozil is exponentially more devastating. He's not so much a creator as an executioner, he doesn't just create chances, but sets up unmissable scoring opportunities. In a statistical age where Gareth Bale's last-minute, 30-yard screamer against West Ham can credit Tom Carroll's five-yard pass as an assist, Ozil has redefined creativity.

Seeing the play in “bullet time”, aware of slivers of gaps in defences quicker than other players and spotting passes in the blink of an eye, an extraordinary number of the German's assists are put on the proverbial plate and sprinkled with condiment. Devilish flicks, pull-backs that set up open goals and outside-of-the-boot crosses that take even the goalkeeper out of the equation. 

The former Werder Bremen star created 24 clear-cut goalscoring opportunities last season, the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues, at a rate of one every 84.25 minutes. He also created 91 chances, on average every 22.2 minutes, and, since he moved to Real Madrid three years ago, his total of 47 assists is matched only by Lionel Messi over the same period. 

Many have argued the case that "passing to Ronaldo" ensured his assist return was always going to be high, but the 13 he mustered during his final year in the Bundesliga accentuates how effective a player he is pushing forward. This alone shows why Madrid fans were chanting "Don't sell Ozil" during Bale’s unveiling at the Bernabeu two weeks ago. Moreover, a number of influential first team members, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa to name three, voiced their concerns about his sale, while Spanish paper AS suggested that it would have been wiser to have sold Sami Khedira to Manchester United instead of Ozil to Arsenal. 

By comparison, in the Premier League, Leighton Baines created the most clear-cut chances with 21, but at a rate of one every 162 minutes is far inferior to Ozil. Arsenal's best, Santi Cazorla, created 15 clear-cut opportunities, but only every 219.8 minutes, meaning the £40 million man is over 2.5 times as creative as his new, much-hailed Spanish team-mate. That does, however, hint at a couple of potential problems, firstly, Cazorla is likely to be shifted out wide to accommodate Ozil in his familiar role through the middle, with the Spaniard enjoying far less influence on the left wing when deployed there last season. 

Secondly, while Ozil may have an almost unparalleled capacity to create clear-cut chances, Olivier Giroud has an equally astonishing ability to miss them. The Frenchman scored just four of the 23 clear-cut chances that fell his way last season. Only Robin van Persie missed more, though the Premier League top scorer's clear-cut chance conversation rate of 43% rather dwarfed Giroud's 17%. In the former Montpellier striker's defence, he has made a promising start to the new campaign off the back of a prolific pre-season and scored the first opportunity set up by Ozil last weekend.

One facet of Arsenal's style that Ozil is tailor-made to slot into is the club's slick counter-attacking game. The Gunners scored seven goals on the break last season, a Premier League high, and the German's awareness of space, click-of-the-finger passing and sniping runs – demonstrated to English audiences first hand against then boss Fabio Capello's Three Lions in Bloemfontein at the 2010 World Cup, are a match made in heaven.

Those skills were honed in the Spanish capital, where Mourinho's Madrid scored 50 counter-attacking goals across three seasons in La Liga, and there's a sense that Theo Walcott finally has a partner in crime to maximize his ferocious pace on the break. Walcott perennially lurks on the shoulder of the last man, itching to dart behind the full-back, but, through a combination of his own overeagerness to make the run and Arsenal's conservative nature, is all too rarely picked out. Ozil's higher-risk passing, his perfection of timing and weight, could get the best out of the speedy Englishman.

Ozil is a fabulous addition to Arsenal's ranks and is statement of intent by the north London side as they look to end their nine-year hunt for a trophy. A player of his quality has lifted the spirits of the fans and morale across the club has unsurprisingly soared as a result of the arrival of the football magician. 

The superfluous, crack-papering signing he could be regarded as an explosive final-third spark, a through-ball demon, a counter-attacking assassin, and probably the most exhilarating, established talent to ever join the Premier League from foreign shores.