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Arsenal and Unai Emery could benefit from Mesut Ozil's Germany conflict

Posted in 02 August 2018

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Mesut Ozil's international career appears to be over but the furore in Germany could work in Arsenal's favour. The early evidence suggests Unai Emery is placing him at the centre of his Emirates Stadium revolution.

It is over a week since Mesut Ozil released the 2,320-word statement confirming his retirement from international football and lashing out at the "racism and disrespect" he suffered over his controversial photograph with Turkish president Recep Erdogan, but the fallout continues.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is the latest in a long line of former Germany internationals to have his say. This week, the Bayern Munich chief executive insisted the criticism of Ozil has nothing to do with his Turkish heritage, instead siding with Ozil's most fierce critic, Bayern president Uli Hoeness, and accusing his agent, Dr Erkut Sogut, of "spreading fables".

Ozil remains at loggerheads with the German Football Association and a return to the international fold looks unlikely, but Arsenal have certainly made him feel welcome. His presence on their tour of Singapore prompted an outpouring of support on their social media channels. "Our diversity is a big part of why we are such a special club," read one tweet.

Unai Emery, who vocalised his support for Ozil at his Arsenal unveiling in the middle of July, even handed him the armband for Saturday's 5-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain. The new head coach says he regards Ozil as a contender to take the captaincy full-time following Per Mertesacker's retirement, but the decision also represented a timely show of support.

Perhaps he had heard Arsene Wenger's assessment of Ozil's World Cup campaign with Germany.

"Ozil is a guy who needs support, he doesn't need controversy," said Wenger. "When I watched him play, I could feel that there were situations in the game where he could have moved forward, progressed more vertically. But he played safely. I always was thinking come on, that's not the real Ozil I know, the guy who can kill."

Arsenal are working hard to ensure he gets the right backing, but who exactly is the 'real Ozil'? It's a debate which has split opinion throughout his career and last season was an example of why. Ozil shone for much of the campaign, signing a new deal in February, but his form dipped after that. It was not the first time he has veered between the sublime and subdued.

Ozil's inconsistency can be maddening and the tendency to drift out of games remains, but there is no disputing what he brings to a team. Ozil is a creator of the very highest calibre and the statistics prove it. Since his arrival in the Premier League back in 2013, he has created more chances and provided more assists than any other player.