Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has insisted a dip in form was inevitable this season as media criticism of his performances persists.
The Germany international has endured a tough spell in recent times after an excellent start to life in England, and has not started for his club in the two Premier League games since missing a penalty in the 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Feb. 19.
“Nearly every player who is new to Premier League needs time to settle in,” Ozil told German magazine Sport Bild. “Here, you meet other challenges. It was clear that I would endure a difficult spell because I missed all of Arsenal’s preseason preparation.”
Ozil has come under fire in the English press after struggling to live up to expectations following his club-record transfer from Real Madrid.
“There was a time when I was not satisfied with my performances either, but I have come through this phase,” he said. “I don’t concern myself too much with [the criticism].
“Three weeks ago they wrote totally different stories and, in three weeks’ time, they’ll write different stories once again. That’s part of the business in England.”
However, the criticism has not been restricted to England. In his homeland, football weekly kicker ran a cover story on Monday under the headline: “The Ozil Debate: Is he one for the big games?”
The piece featured the views of several German legends such as Lothar Matthaeus, Guenter Netzer and Andreas Moeller and, while there was no overall consensus on the 25-year-old, all agreed that he was an individualistic player -- someone capable of producing a single match-winning moment -- rather than a leader. World Cup-winner Matthaeus also warned that, right now, Ozil is in real danger of losing his place in the national team to Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos.
On Wednesday, he was also on the cover of Sport Bild as part of an interview with the magazine. This time, the headline read: “The truth about Ozil!”
The sports weekly’s report examined the situation between Ozil and his father. Late last year, his father, Mustafa, ceased to act as the player’s agent and was replaced by the Germany international’s brother, Mutlu.
Sport Bild claimed Ozil had disagreements with his father over how he should be marketed. Whereas his dad prefers the spotlight, the magazine said, Ozil wanted to focus on football.
“I have always seen myself as a footballer, and still see myself as a footballer. Everyone who knows me is aware of that,” he said.
The magazine also claimed Ozil was not seeking an exit from Madrid, but his father’s gamble during contract negotiations failed to pay off and he had to shop his son around on the European market.
However, Ozil maintains he has no regrets over his deadline-day move to North London.
“That was exactly the right step for my career,” he said.