Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has hit back at criticism of his nonchalant demeanour, insisting that he always strives for perfection on the pitch and that his on-field successes outweigh any calls for him make changes to how he presents himself during matches.
The World Cup winner has featured sparingly for the north London side since Unai Emery replaced Arsene Wenger in the dugout, even being left out of matchday squads altogether with the Spanish boss proclaiming that others deserved to be in the squad ahead of him.
Emery’s decisions have fuelled the fire of previous criticisms, however, with various pundits having called out Ozil over the years for seemingly having poor body language during matches in which the Gunners have struggled to perform – especially against stronger sides.
It bothers the 31-year-old little, though, with Ozil making clear that he has no intention to make changes to an approach that has seen him lift multiple pieces of silverware throughout a successful career.
“It’s my personality,” he told The Athletic. “People want to change me but, since the day I started playing football, I was always like this.
“If a game is not going well or I play a bad ball, of course I get frustrated because I know it can be better. It’s the same when I come off the pitch looking angry. I’m a perfectionist and sometimes I want too much perfection.
“It doesn’t take me long to get over — I’m not going around the pitch or sat on the bench pissed off for the next five minutes or anything. It’s just in that moment and then we continue.
“I realise afterwards it’s not good to show this, but it’s instinctive, so I don’t plan it and it’s not easy to change.
“This is me. I’m the same person at Arsenal as I was at Schalke, Werder Bremen, Real Madrid and the German national team. People may want me to change but I’ve been successful everywhere and I never will.”
Calls for the attacking midfielder to be moved on to free up funds for more practical signings have rung out since his apparent ostracisation, with pundits pointing to Ozil’s huge salary and lack of playing time as a waste of money.
Indeed, while Ozil insists he is committed to the Arsenal cause, some have even claimed putting pen to paper on a lucrative deal saw the former Germany international take his foot off the gas, comfortable in the knowledge that he was paid up until 2021.
“If that was true, why did I work so hard and positively during pre-season this year?” Ozil snapped back.
“And why, after the World Cup last year, did I return from holiday early for the first time in my career to start training three days before I was expected back? I did it for the new coach, the team and the club.
“Maybe people don’t like that I have a good contract? I don’t know or care.”