The constant comparisons, documentaries and mentions of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are understandable, if a little grating.
Both players have graced the world stage with their inimitable presences, and have obliterated records with each season that passes. Driven by their own standards – and a little competition from each other – they have deservedly been labelled as the finest of our generation.
It is their goals though, that have seen them placed atop pedestals so high. Each campaign has seen them both plunder 40,50 goals and it is these numbers, in our stat-fuelled game as it stands today, that has allowed them to break off from their rivals and see them placed in their own unique category.
Some players specialise in goals. Some have their specialist subject in destroying midfielders. Others are adept at stemming wave after wave of attacks.
Then there is Mesut Ozil.
If the German were to be part of a survey, he would not fit any previous mould. He would be found in the box marked ‘other.’
In todays game, our number 11 cannot be compared to any other player. He is crudely categorised as a playmaker, but anyone who has seen him play will realise he is much more than just our own Golden Hen, forcing out assist after assist.
He is a mercurial ninja, floating between dimensions. Seeking only the right moment to strike, his singular motivation is to ensure he allows his team the best chance to ensure damage to the opposition.
If the ball gravitates toward him in a deep position, then even a simple ten yard pass will have gone through his own mental collander, ruling out all other options and making sure it is the most efficient choice.
Every decision he makes, when you take a retrospective look at his performance, is normally the correct one. All of these mental gymnastics his brain performs is done in a sliver of time that most would find difficult to comprehend. Only a small pocket of players are capable of utilising this skill on the pitch, but they still lack the other weapons at Ozil’s disposal.
As a ninja, Ozil’s quick thinking and vision are his katana – his go-to weapon. His sidearm though, is his awareness. The very same awareness that the great Dennis Bergkamp possessed. It allows Ozil to know where his teammates are, and find them no matter where they are. His technical ability means that if they are 50-60 yards away, he will still be able to produce a ball so perfectly weighted, that it will find its intended target even if they are on the run, allowing them to take possession easily.
Nothing is left to chance. What really sets our German apart though, is the effortless nature in which he performs such tasks. His roll of the body to outwit N’Golo Kante in our 3-0 demolition of Chelsea to start the move for the 3rd goal – which he duly scored – looked so easy and smooth that it looked like anyone could have done it.
He has the Karate Kid factor. We all saw the films, with Danny LaRusso being taught to paint fences and wax cars in a roundabout method of capturing the movement required for basic karate moves, but at the end of each film – didn’t we all try the crane kick? Didn’t we all think we could be karate champion?
When we watch Ozil, it is the same. Everything he does looks so simple, but trying to recreate such things as a lowly human is nigh-on impossible. Ozil hails from a different plain, one that isn’t exactly overpopulated.
David Silva, Kevin DeBruyne, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Christian Eriksen and Cesc Fabregas are regularly stood next to Ozil and their numbers are studied and scrutinised in an effort to find a parallel with our quietly spoken genius.
They may have the vision of Ozil. Some may even have his work rate. A few may yet possess his touch. None of them though, have his nonchalant manner in performing the ridiculously difficult. None have the ability to begin moves from any position, even when playing below par.
Ozil is an instigator. His mind is a constant whirring chess simulation, twisting the board to all angles in an attempt to see a chink in the enemies armour. To find the smallest gap to slide his blade into, thus causing damage on a massive scale.
That is why Mesut Ozil is unique. Held up against the players who are always compared to him, he stands above them, as he cannot be merely labelled.
He is a diamond of many facets, each one allowing the other to shine brighter.
He is unique, and we should enjoy every minute he wears our crest.
Mesut Ozil is an endangered species, but hopefully his presence in training will allow others to glean enough to ensure and maintain a continuation of his kind.