London: Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil has reacted to criticism of his performances by declaring that he is one of the world's best number 10s, but is being played out of position.
Ozil, 25, joined Arsenal from Real Madrid a year ago in a club-record ?42 million ($69.7 million, 31.1 million euros) transfer, but he shone only fitfully in his first season at the Emirates Stadium.
Nevertheless, he finished the season as an FA Cup-winner and then won the World Cup with Germany, and he believes that if he is yet to impose himself in the Premier League, it is because manager Arsene Wenger plays him on the left flank.
"I'm one of the best players in the world in that number 10 position. Fans, coaches, players and everyone knows that my best position is playmaker. It's different playing on the left," he told Saturday's edition of the Daily Telegraph.
"When I was in Madrid, I often played on the right. I enjoyed that because I'm left-footed and I was able to cut inside to give assists and get shots on target. On the left, it's more difficult.
"The opinions of fans are important to me and I'm happy they have such high expectations of me. I have high expectations of myself". Wenger had defended Ozil on Friday, comparing him to a virtuoso musician and claiming that his contributions to Arsenal's attacking play were unfairly overlooked.
"People are very harsh on Ozil because he's a player who is easy with his play," said the Frenchman, ahead of his side's trip to Leicester City on Sunday. "When you watch his game back the next day, you think, 'What a player.' Everything he does is intelligent and the timing of absolutely everything he does is absolutely perfect.
"He's like a guy who plays music with perfect timing. There aren't many players like that". Despite his reservations about where he has been asked to play, Ozil said that he enjoyed working with Wenger.
"The whole club can be proud to have such a fantastic manager with so much experience, playing with style and doing so many great things for 18 years here," he said. "The boss has always blooded youngsters, and helped make them into some of the best players in the world. That's also why I came here. I wanted to develop myself further."...