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'I don't care what people think of me,' says Mesut Ozil as Arsenal playmaker hits back at critics

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‘I don’t care what people think of me,’ says Mesut Ozil as Arsenal playmaker hits back at his critics

  • Arsenal star Mesut Ozil insists that he ‘doesn’t care’ what people think of him
  • The German playmaker has been at the centre of Arsenal’s resurgence this year 
  • Ozil has his critics but he insists he only listens to those inside his inner circle

Sami Mokbel for the Daily Mail

Opinions and Mesut Ozil go hand-in-hand. You’ll have reached your own conclusions about the enigmatic German.

Genius, lazy, luxury player, disinterested, unpatriotic or under-appreciated; whatever the stigma, Ozil’s probably been called it.

Of course, those opinions are wholly entitled — Ozil admits as much as he sits down with Sportsmail for a rare newspaper interview.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, who is often criticised, insists he 'doesn't care' what people think of him

Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, who is often criticised, insists he ‘doesn’t care’ what people think of him

But don’t expect Ozil to listen. Don’t expect him to take it to heart. Don’t expect him to care.

‘Look, I know there’s people out there that like me, there are also people who don’t like me,’ Ozil says.

‘This is a fact of life. But, for me, what is important is what the people in my inner circle tell me.

‘I don’t care what people say outside of that. It doesn’t affect me.

‘If the coach, or people in my circle, tell me: “Mesut you have to do this, or have to do that” then I listen. I’ll take that and work on it.

‘But I don’t look at what someone else is saying. It really doesn’t affect me.’

Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) celebrate a sublime goal against Leicester

Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) celebrate a sublime goal against Leicester

Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) celebrate a sublime goal against Leicester

You can make your own mind up about who Ozil’s remarks are aimed at. Pundits? Maybe.

It was less than a fortnight ago he was described as ‘petulant’ by Graeme Souness. Ozil will argue he’s been called far worse.

Or maybe it’s those who criticised him for the reasoning behind his international retirement after Germany’s disastrous World Cup campaign.

The midfielder, born to Turkish parents, cited ‘discrimination’ as his reason behind walking away from international football.

‘I am German when we win, an immigrant when we lose,’ said Ozil — a devout Muslim — in July when announcing his international retirement. Yet there’s no anger or resentment in Ozil’s tone when discussing criticism. 

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Ozil cited ‘discrimination’ as his reason behind walking away from international football

Instead, his response is cool and calculated, with the same precision as his outrageous outside of the boot pass to set-up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in last month’s win over Leicester.

Inevitably, that game against the Foxes comes up in conversation. How could it not? Ozil was breathtaking that night — a goal followed by his sublime assist.

All that on an evening when he was captaining Arsenal for the very first time. Unarguably, one of — if not his best — performance in an Arsenal shirt.

Indeed, Unai Emery’s revolution is quickly taking shape — and Ozil is a central figure in the Gunners resurgence since Arsene Wenger’s departure.

On Thursday night, Arsenal can extend their unbeaten run to 15 games, a sequence they haven’t achieved since the 2007-08 season, when they face Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League.

But just as Ozil refuses to get carried away with the criticism, he declines the opportunity to gush over his sizzling display against Leicester and Arsenal’s excellent start to life under Emery’s tutelage.

Unai Emery’s revolution is quickly taking shape — and Ozil is a central figure in the resurgence

Unai Emery’s revolution is quickly taking shape — and Ozil is a central figure in the resurgence

Unai Emery’s revolution is quickly taking shape — and Ozil is a central figure in the resurgence

Instead, he has called on his team to ensure their blistering beginning to the campaign does not fade into the background — to ensure this is simply the start of bigger and better things for a football club that has been entrenched in malaise for so long.

‘Personally, things are going well but that doesn’t mean I stop working,’ was Ozil’s level-headed response when asked about his mesmerising display against Leicester.

‘But the most important thing is that the team is going well at the moment. But it’s a process — every coach has a different strategy or philosophy and we can feel it.

‘It’s a tactical thing with the new coach. We are learning from him, we are trying to give our best on the pitch every day and every hour.

‘But we have to keep being hungry, and keep progressing. It’s not like we are done now (because we have gone 14 games unbeaten). It’s like we are just starting.

‘We are doing well for now, but that doesn’t mean we stop.’

Reminders of what await Arsenal should they continue their brilliant form surround Ozil as we meet in London’s Covent Garden at the launch of his new wellbeing brand UNITY, co-founded with former Gunners team-mate Mathieu Flamini.

Ozil called on his team to ensure their blistering beginning to the campaign does not fade

Ozil called on his team to ensure their blistering beginning to the campaign does not fade

Ozil called on his team to ensure their blistering beginning to the campaign does not fade

Hundreds of PSV Eindhoven fans have descended on Covent Garden on Tuesday night ahead of making their way to Wembley for the Champions League group clash against Tottenham.

Come this time next year, Ozil is hoping he’ll be busy on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

But if Arsenal fail in their efforts to break back into European football’s elite, you get the impression he’ll handle the disappointment.

Over time, Ozil’s developed thicker skin than most. He’s had to to survive.

A tough upbringing, his formative years were beset with difficulties. It’s credit to Ozil that he is confident enough to discuss it.

Growing up in the run-down district of Bismarck, in Gelsenkirchen, Ozil lived in a small apartment with his parents and three siblings – brother Mutlu and sister Nese and Duygu.

He had to grow up quickly, particularly in the caged concrete football pitches he used to hone his talent.

Ozil and ex-Gunner Mathieu Flamini (left) launch their new wellbeing brand UNITY in London

Ozil and ex-Gunner Mathieu Flamini (left) launch their new wellbeing brand UNITY in London

Ozil and ex-Gunner Mathieu Flamini (left) launch their new wellbeing brand UNITY in London

One of those pitches is now known as the ‘Mesut cage’ by locals in homage to the World Cup winner.

Football was a release for Ozil back then, an opportunity to escape from poverty.

Ozil was often teased by his peers for things as material as not having the latest football boots.

In a previous interview, he once confessed to binding a pair of shoes together with tape so he could play. On other occasions he had to miss matches because the family didn’t own a car.

‘I had a very difficult childhood, I grew up in a very rough area,’ explained Ozil.

‘I know what it means not to have anything – so I always said to myself when I have something I want to give back. That was always one of the mottos of my life.’

Ozil’s stayed true to his word. After playing a lead role in Germany’s World Cup triumph in 2014, Ozil famously spent his bonus on paying for surgery for 23 Brazilian children.

Sportsmail's Sami Mokbel sits down to talk with Ozil for a rare newspaper interview

Sportsmail's Sami Mokbel sits down to talk with Ozil for a rare newspaper interview

Sportsmail’s Sami Mokbel sits down to talk with Ozil for a rare newspaper interview

Two years later, he visited a refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan, in his role working with the Asian Football Development Project.

‘I went to the refugee camp in Zatari (Jordan) to see the kids to see if I can give them a great moment, that was one of the biggest experiences that touched me, it changed me,’ he explained.

‘I love football, football is my passion — that’s why I’m playing. My hobby became my profession and I love being out on the pitch.

‘But I know there’s a life outside the pitch. When I go home, or after a game then I’m in a normal life, if I can give something back then I will do.’



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Three Hugely Important Takeaways From The Brighton Vs Arsenal Game

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Arsenal were held by Brighton & Hove Albion to a 1-1 draw as they put up a sub-par performance. After the first twenty minutes of the Brighton Vs Arsenal game, the Gunners simply lacked the cutting edge and decisiveness to win the game.

A shambolic performance in the Brighton Vs Arsenal match at the Falmer Stadium allowed Chelsea to gain a two point advantage to be placed fourth in the league table. Currently struggling, Manchester United comfortably won their match against Huddersfield town and have now reduced the deficit to 6 points.

Aubameyang once again initiated the goal scoring for the Gunners as his lovely curling effort gave them a 1-0 lead over the Seagulls. It was a culmination of poor defending and unnecessary panicking from the Brighton defense which allowed Aubameyang to unleash a beautiful curler for the starter.

Arsenal were the dominant force for the first twenty minutes and produced a substantial amount of chances. The ex-Dortmund striker could have had a hat-trick inside the first half, only if he had latched onto the chances and finished clinically. Credit must be given to Matt Ryan for making some great saves to keep his team in the hunt.

After the half hour mark, things started to ease out for the home team as they slowly started to take control of the proceedings of the Brighton Vs Arsenal tie. At the 35th minute, a long ball from Davy Propper found Stephen Lichsteiner, who fumbled a simple heading to gift the ball to Locadia, who found the equalizer for Brighton. Leno had already committed himself forward and it was a regulatory striker finish past the keeper into the net.

The second half saw Arsenal plummet in terms of creativity on the field. They simply could not string together a set of passes for the forwards to shoot at the goal. To sum up, the Brighton Vs Arsenal game was so bad that the Gunners only managed one shot on the target in the second half.

Why Lucas Torreira Is Arsenal’s Unrivalled Best Signing Of The Season

Brighton were stubborn in defense and did not allow the Gunners an inch of space to shoot. The substitutions made by Emery didn’t help the cause further. It was a dampening day at work for the visitors as they were tactically dominated by the mid table team.

With the Anfield trip next on their schedule, Arsenal needed the three vital points from the Brighton Vs Arsenal fixture to ensure they remain in hunt for the top four. After having dropped points here means Arsenal will now need to get a win against Liverpool at Anfield – a much more daunting task.

Here are the three talking points from the Brighton Vs Arsenal match:

1. Arsenal Need To Sort Out Their Defense ASAP

Injuries to defenders has plagued the Arsenal defense. Yet again it was a sub-standard performance by the Arsenal defense.The defenders simply lack application and are committing silly errors in front of the goal in crunch situations.

The transfer window does not open until new year. Once open, Arsenal definitely need to target solid center backs if they want to challenge for the fourth position in the league and the cup competitions.

With the most important fixture coming up before New Year against Liverpool at Anfield, if the defense isn’t sorted out, Leno will be left helpless against a much fierce Liverpool attack. Emery somehow needs to find a solution to the defensive woes.

2.Arsenal Are Over-reliant On Aubameyang For Goals

It was once again Aubameyang who kick-started the goal scoring for the Gunners. He had two more solid chances but was denied by some exquisite goal-keeping of Ryan. Aubameyang is the leading goal-scorer in the Premier League with 13 goals. Arsenal have always relied on him to dish out the goals.

It is high time that the other players stepped up and contributed more to the attack. Lacazette’s substitution during the Brighton Vs Arsenal game for Aaron Ramsey at the hour mark did not help the cause further. Although, he missed two big chances, but by far he was the most significant player on the pitch for Arsenal.

The Gabonese striker regularly made inroads into the shaky Brighton defense. Arsenal need Aubameyang to continue his rich form when they go up against table toppers Liverpool on 29th December at Anfield.

3. The Mesut Ozil Saga Continues Even For The Brighton Vs Arsenal Fixture

Emery substituted Mesut Ozil, the most creative player on the pitch at half time. The result was evident with Arsenal unable to push forward once Ozil was gone. The Gunners lacked the inventiveness once the German was gone.

There were no more risky passes or through balls in the second half of the Brighton Vs Arsenal tie. Aubameyang had no support and Torreira’s off day saw things go from bad to worse. It is evident that there are certain problems between Ozil and Unai Emery but Arsenal need to resolve them expeditiously.

Brighton’s goal in the Brighton Vs Arsenal match was somewhat Ozil’s fault too as he failed to track back in time. This led to him being substituted at the start of the second half.

Given his experience in big matches and the amount of creativity he brings to the team in the absence of a natural right winger, it is imperative that Emery continues to trust Ozil. The team is already bereft of Henrikh Mkhitariyan and hence Ozil should be included in the starting lineup against Liverpool.

Follow Arsedevils for more news and updates on Arsenal.

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Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey backed to make Juventus switch by Andrea Pirlo

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Juventus are currently top of Serie A, which is no surprise considering they’ve won the Italian league title for the past seven campaigns.

Despite their nine-point lead at the summit, manager Massimiliano Allegri is still keen to bolster his squad.

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World Cup winner Pirlo wasn’t surprised to hear of the interest in Ramsey, revealing that he is a fan of the Welsh international.

“Ramsey is a great purchase,” Pirlo said on Sky Sport Italia.

“Juventus are preparing another excellent deal. He is a strong player and could do very well.”

The Bianconeri have made a habit of picking up top players from other European clubs on free transfers, Ramsey could be another, his Arsenal deal expiring in the summer.

Pirlo himself joined the Italian giants after his contract expired at Milan in 2011, showing that his former club have a keen eye for a bargain.

This season Emre Can joined on a free from Liverpool with Dani Alves joining from Barcelona for nothing in 2016.

Sami Khedira is another player who made the switch after seeing his contract expire, and has gone on to play 118 times for Juventus, scoring 20 goals.

Ramsey has been quiet on his Arsenal future this season, but it has been widely reported that Unai Emery and the former Cardiff man have quit talks after failing to agree terms.

Before the season began Emery had been vocal about Ramsey’s place in the Arsenal squad, stating before that that a new contract was on it’s way.

“I’m very happy with him,” said Emery in August.

“For me, every day, every training session, he has the ambition I want.

“He’s working with a quality, the type of ability that I want. I want to work with him.”

The Gunners are currently fifth in the Premier League table with 11 wins from their 19 games.

Emery’s side face a tough trip to Anfield on Saturday as they hope to leapfrog Chelsea into the top four.

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Mo Salah has his say on Kalidou Koulibaly racist abuse

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Liverpool star Mo Salah has waded in on the racist abuse directed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegalese defender was targeted by Inter…

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