Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has claimed that modern football has evolved and left behind players such as Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil. The Sky Sports pundit has suggested that one dimensional players don’t cut it at the the top of the game any more, as elite football has transformed to the point where versatile players are a necessity.
Ozil has played eight times for Unai Emery’s new look Arsenal side in the Premier League this season, scoring three goals and providing one assist.
His mercurial talent is one that often divides opinion; when he is on form and playing in a team that accentuate his strengths, Ozil can be a joy to watch. The question always asked about Arsenal’s number ten is whether he does it consistently enough.
The number ten position lies at the crux of Carragher’s doubts about Ozil. Writing in his column for The Independent, Carragher questioned whether traditional ‘number tens’ are still useful enough at the highest level.
“Ozil is a traditional ‘number 10’ in an era where elite clubs want multi-functional strikers and midfielders. Look around Europe and the regular title contenders favour 4-3-3: Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid. So do the re-emerging forces of Liverpool and Chelsea.
“Managers who do have a ’10’ like Spurs have players who redefine the role. The top coaches want wide strikers who cut inside. They want playmaking midfielders who can play between the lines as well as perform their defensive duties.
“Ozil’s problem is he is easily defined. He is a number 10 as we used to know it. He has not changed and I am not sure he wants to.”
Since arriving at Arsenal in 2013, Ozil has contributed to 81 goals in 150 games (30 goals and 51 assists). His arrival in north London also coincided with Arsenal ending their almost decade long trophy drought by winning three FA Cups in four years. Let’s not forget that Ozil also has a World Cup winner’s medal with Germany earned in 2014 before his acrimonious retirement from national duty earlier this year.
Whilst Carragher acknowledged Ozil’s contribution to Arsenal’s past, he suggested that his place in Arsenal’s future may be uncertain.
“Where will Ozil fit into that longer-term? Given the length and size of his deal, Emery will try to make it work. Surely it will now be a case of Ozil changing to fit the demands of the manager, rather than Emery changing his ideas or the structure of his side to fit in Ozil? Emery has already shown he is not afraid to substitute or even leave him out.
“It is a myth to suggest Ozil has not produced in England. It is equally true he has not produced what was expected. Unless Emery can unlock what Wenger could not, Ozil will be remembered as one of the best Arsenal players of this era, but not one of the best Premier League players of this era.”