Being an emblem of his team does not make him responsible for its failures
It is remarkable how many of the words written and screamed about Mesut Özil are critical. The go-to hit on him is that he is lightweight and lazy, ill-suited to the physical rigours of English football. Barney Ronay is here to tell you that’s not quite right. His column points out how the media narrative about the German being lazy on the pitch is lazy and posits an alternative theory: Özil is lazy off the pitch.
It’s understandable that Özil, along with Alexis Sanchez, attracts much of the Arsenal coverage not focussed on Arsene Wenger, the club’s much maligned manager. They are the club’s two best players, a fact which only heightens the significance of both having expiring contracts, making it likely they depart next summer if not before. This emigration of talent – to Europe, or to Manchester – will decimate a squad already struggling to keep up with the Premier League heavyweights. Last weekend’s ponderous display in defeat at Watford in which neither started was a glimpse of a grim future without them.