Ozil sets sights on Euro
Mesut Ozil meets students of Arsenal Soccer Schools at Sevens Stadium in Dubai on Monday.
Dubai - German World Cup hero keen to stay at Arsenal
Mesut Ozil, whose creative spark inspired Arsene Wenger to compare him to the football's Van Gogh (read Dennis Bergkamp), dropped the biggest hint yet about his future at the Emirates.
After having tasted his finest season in an Arsenal shirt, rumours began flying thick and fast about that the German World Cup winner's next move.
That he is already eyeing his next footballing destination with the famous Old Lady of Turin being linked with the former Real Madrid player for a possible deal in the summer.
It was believed that the 27-year-old midfielder became disillusioned with Arsenal's frailties in a season that saw them in commanding position to end their 12-year league title drought only to throw it all away with three heartbreaking defeats in February.
As the self-proclaimed Special One and his blue brigade collapsed in spectacular fashion and cracks began appearing in the ageing bodies of Manchester City's superstars, the season promised so much for Wenger's men and yet they ended up with only the consolation of having beaten bitter London rivals Tottenham for a second-place finish in the league.
It was a season that eventually slipped through their fingers like sand as Claudio Ranieri's Leicester City scripted the greatest underdog story ever, leaving the iconic Rocky Balboa in the shade.
But it seems Ozil has already put the disappointments behind as he looks as determined as the boxer who gets back on his feet despite enduring a barrage of punches from a menacing foe in the ring.
Yes, Ozil simply wants to try one more time to lift the gloom at the Emirates.
Before enjoying a kickabout with the wide-eyed youngsters of the Arsenal Soccer Schools in Dubai on Monday, the gifted playmaker quashed the fears that had crept into the minds of Arsenal fans.
"Well, I still have two years left on my contract with Arsenal. We will be in touch with the people in the club and we will see what happens in the future. But now I am concentrating on the Euro 2016 which is very important for me and my team. After the tournament in France, I will sit down with Arsenal and see what happens," Ozil told us a day after leaving a 'See you next season' message for Arsenal fans on Twitter.
After having finished the season on top of the assists list with 19, Ozil revealed the reason behind his fantastic season with the club.
"Yes this season was my best season with Arsenal. But there were some factors behind it. For the first time since joining Arsenal in 2013, I had a proper preseason with the team. I never had a preseason with the team in the first two years.
"In the second year I also had an injury which kept me out of the game for a long time. So the preseason that I had this time really helped me play my best football for Arsenal."
He may have enjoyed his best season at the Emirates, but the team failed to quench the thirst of the fans once again. The German felt it was the injuries suffered by key players that hurt their title ambition.
|We dropped a lot of points against the smaller teams. After the Barcelona game in February we lost some points because we lost some players to injury and that eventually hurt us. Hopefully, we will be stronger next season with new players coming in."
There is a new responsibility on Ozil's shoulders in the German national team after the retirement of stalwarts like Philipp Lahm. Many in the German media believe Ozil has to be a leader in Joachim Low's World Cup-winning team.
"Well, I am in the German national team for a long time now. But I don't think of myself as a leader. I just think as a team we are very strong. Yes after the World Cup we lost some important players, but we have some very good young players to compensate for the losses. We have the right players to be successful in the Euros," he said.
Ozil then identified the team that could have a highly successful campaign in the Euros. "I think England are very strong and they have very good young players. They never give up. We saw that in the friendly against us in Berlin. We were 2-0 up but they came back and won 3-2. They proved that they are a very strong team mentally," Ozil said.
Finally Ozil admitted that Germany, despite their inconsistent form, will be among the biggest favourites in France.
"We have a good team. But yes there are other good teams as well. Obviously France is playing at home and they have a very strong team.
"It will not be easy to play against France. But you know we beat Brazil in Brazil in the World Cup despite them having the home fans behind them.
"So that's the point. We are Germany and we are prepared to play against any team in the world!"