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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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Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud would love to haunt old club Arsenal

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‘My blood is blue now’: Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud would love to haunt old club Arsenal in the Europa League final

  • Olivier Giroud insists he bleeds blue as he prepares for Europa League final 
  • The Chelsea striker is determined to impress against his old club Arsenal 
  • Giroud stressed that he’s happy at Chelsea and is in talks over new one-year deal

The little twists of fate are not lost on Olivier Giroud as he prepares for Baku and an end-of-season reunion with his former club.

Giroud was forced from Arsenal at a time when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrived and overloaded the numbers competing for the one place up front in Arsene Wenger‘s team.

‘I was going to the boss and telling him we can change,’ he said. ‘I would say, ‘We can put two strikers up front’, but Mesut Ozil used to play No 10, like a second striker, and I was OK with that.’

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud wants to haunt his old club Arsenal in the Europa League final

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud wants to haunt his old club Arsenal in the Europa League final

Giroud decided it was best to move on and Chelsea paid £18million. Eighteen months later, he is Maurizio Sarri’s single striker, trusted to lead the line in the Europa League if rarely in the Premier League, where Gonzalo Higuain has been preferred.

The Frenchman has been prolific in Europe, with 10 goals and three assists, making him the top striker in the competition ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic.

Eintracht are out, beaten on penalties by Chelsea in the semi-finals and Jovic, who is closing in on a £52.4m move to Real Madrid, can score and assist no more.

Giroud still has one to play, the big one against Arsenal, his former club who are now managed by Unai Emery and have been propelled to the final in Baku by seven goals against Valencia from the £100m twin strike force of Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

‘It seems things are different,’ smiled Giroud. ‘Sometimes they play two up front. When I was there it never happened.’

Giroud admits it will be 'tough' to play against Arsenal but is looking forward to the occasion

Giroud admits it will be 'tough' to play against Arsenal but is looking forward to the occasion

Giroud admits it will be ‘tough’ to play against Arsenal but is looking forward to the occasion

The prospect of duelling for a trophy with Arsenal, where he spent five and a half years, is sweet for the 32-year-old.

‘I always like playing against my old teams,’ said Giroud. ‘It’s going to be tough, and it could be painful if it’s not going the right way, but you have to put the feelings and memories aside.

‘I enjoyed the years I spent there. It has been a big part of my career, my first club in England and it will always be special, but now I feel my blood is blue. The same as the national team, blue suits me well.

‘I settled in quickly. I felt like part of the family straight away. I knew a few of the players and I’m a sociable person, I always try to communicate. It wasn’t difficult to integrate. I always see it as a new challenge. 

Giroud enjoyed his time at Arsenal but stressed Chelsea are more obsessed with winning

Giroud enjoyed his time at Arsenal but stressed Chelsea are more obsessed with winning

Giroud enjoyed his time at Arsenal but stressed Chelsea are more obsessed with winning

‘I couldn’t have hoped for it to be better. And now I want to win my second trophy with Chelsea. To finish as top scorer and help my team. Our target is to win a trophy every season and this is the last chance.’

This, he believes, is where you find the key cultural difference between the two London rivals, cast at opposite ends of football’s identity spectrum since the turn of the century. One obsessed with winning and the other obsessed with beautiful football, although the lines have become blurred by the end of the Wenger era and Sarri’s arrival at Stamford Bridge.

‘The main difference is Arsenal always tried to give the chances to the young players,’ said Giroud. ‘It felt like more players formed at the club could have the opportunity to play. Maybe you would get more time at Arsenal. They would be more patient.

‘At Chelsea you have to be ready quickly because in terms of trophies it has been the best club in England for the last 10 years.

‘You don’t have time at Chelsea and when you are young it is quite difficult to find your place. You can see we have a very good academy producing very good players and a few of them are in the first team and that is a good example for the future generation.

‘I don’t want to kill the dreams of these young Chelsea players. They are very talented, but it makes sense because Chelsea invest more in every transfer window and they buy more top players in the world who are more experienced.

‘I am just being honest. People who know football and the Premier League and these two clubs, they know Arsene Wenger could not spend too much money. It was the philosophy of the club and because of that — or thanks to that — he would give the opportunity to young players.’

Giroud stated that young players at Chelsea don't have much time to succeed

Giroud stated that young players at Chelsea don't have much time to succeed

Giroud stated that young players at Chelsea don’t have much time to succeed

Giroud with his son Evan at Stamford Bridge following Chelsea's game against Watford

Giroud with his son Evan at Stamford Bridge following Chelsea's game against Watford

Giroud with his son Evan at Stamford Bridge following Chelsea’s game against Watford

Giroud won’t say which method he prefers but he is thriving in Chelsea’s demanding environment. Within six months of his transfer, he won the FA Cup, which he won three times at Arsenal, and kept Lacazette out of the team as France won the World Cup.

Having returned from last week’s trip to the United States to play in the Final Whistle on Hate game, he is finalising contract talks.

His original deal is about to expire but Chelsea want to exercise their option for one more year and, with Higuain set to be sent back to Juventus after the Europa League final, Giroud has been convinced to stay.

‘I feel very happy at the club,’ said Giroud. ‘Maybe I need a bit more game-time but I won’t give up. That’s my mentality. That’s how I’m made. It’s not sorted yet but we are talking about another year.’

The Frenchman insists that he is happy at Chelsea and is in talks regarding a new one-year deal

The Frenchman insists that he is happy at Chelsea and is in talks regarding a new one-year deal

The Frenchman insists that he is happy at Chelsea and is in talks regarding a new one-year deal



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Miracles Do Happen As Former Player Santi Cazorla Simply Proves Arsenal Wrong In Letting Him Leave

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Rarely are players missed as much as Santi Cazorla is at Arsenal. Without him, an integral part of the creative midfield machine has been absent, resulting in the gunners inability to play in the traditional Arsenal style.

It seems the club have no one of the same quality as the dynamic Spaniard and they will eventually have to go to great lengths to replace the one player they couldn’t and still can’t do without. As transfer fees go, the £10m Arsenal paid Malaga was nothing short of theft.

Since his departure and re-employment, I’m sure I’m not alone in checking out his progress at his current club, Villarreal this season.

As I did, I recalled his absolute and undeniable class in a red and white shirt. I recalled his energy, his vision and his exquisite touch which are now gracing La Liga instead of North London.

But, let’s rewind this astonishing story that has resulted in a call up to the national side after so much misery.
Cazorla missed 18 months of his football career after an horrendous Achilles injury that required several operations. He had a severe infections which turned into gangrene and it nearly cost him his foot.

Operation and recuperation were very much part of everyday life for Cazorla. It was an injury in which he lost an unbelievable eight centimetres of his tendon and placed his career at the brink.

Arsenal extended his contract by a year while he was absent but when the chance to extend that came around, Arsenal pulled the plug. The medical assessment at the time indicated that he wouldn’t be able to compete at the top level again and taking into account the midfielders age, he was released.

Whoever made that assessment is now looking incredibly stupid because Cazorla came back with a vengeance and has since made 45 appearances in all competitions for Villarreal, scoring seven goals and delivering 11 assists, not bad for someone who’s career was over.

He featured in one of the most exciting games in La Liga in April’s 4-4 draw with Barcelona and because of his exceptional performances and key contributions, he’s been called up to the provisional Spanish national squad, the first time since 2015

When Cazorla heard about his national team call up, he apparently cried and no wonder. He has gone from being a potential amputee, to a cast off, to hero, to the Spanish squad. What a phenomenal turn around in fortune and totally deserved.

I’ve been an Arsenal supporter for many years and you don’t get to see that many special players in a lifetime but I have been lucky enough to see more than my fair share and along with the Bergkamp’s and Henry’s you can add the name of Cazorla.

Not out of sentiment but on pure skill and merit, because Cazorla could have been in the same side as both, he could have been in any of Wenger’s top sides including the Invincible’s.

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He was and is a top, top player and the most positive, inspiring human being in football, overcoming injury and misfortune.

In all the time he was injured, he never once believed he wouldn’t grace the football field again and he never gave up or felt sorry for himself at any point.

I hope his resurgence continues and Cazorla features for Spain in the way he always should have when he played well for Arsenal yet was constantly overlooked.

Follow Arsedevils for news and updates on Arsenal.

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Chelsea step up preparations for Europa League final

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Chelsea step up preparations for Europa League final as Eden Hazard and Maurizio Sarri’s futures hang in the balance

  • Eden Hazard was seen showing off his tremendous dribbling skills on Monday
  • Maurizio Sarri is also being lined up by Juventus to be their new head coach
  • N’Golo Kante was back in training as he recovers from a hamstring strain

Chelsea have stepped up their preparations for their Europa League final clash with Arsenal as clouds hang over the futures of talisman Eden Hazard and manager Maurizio Sarri.

Hazard, who was seen showing off his tremendous dribbling skills on Monday, will be allowed to leave this summer.

Sportsmail understands the Blues are concerned that if they let him leave Stamford Bridge for free next summer – when his contract expires – there would be repercussions for their Financial Fair play figures. 

Eden Hazard was seen showing off his tremendous dribbling skills on Monday evening

Eden Hazard was seen showing off his tremendous dribbling skills on Monday evening

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante was back in training as he recovers from a hamstring strain

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante was back in training as he recovers from a hamstring strain

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante was back in training as he recovers from a hamstring strain

Kepa Arrizabalaga was also in action showing off his reflexes as he bids to win his first trophy

Kepa Arrizabalaga was also in action showing off his reflexes as he bids to win his first trophy

Kepa Arrizabalaga was also in action showing off his reflexes as he bids to win his first trophy

Sarri, who was not photographed at Cobham training ground, is also being lined up by Juventus to replace outgoing coach Massimiliano Allegri. 

One player who was in action on Monday, was N’Golo Kante, who is on his way back from a hamstring injury.

This is a major boost ahead of the final in Baku on May 29 as the Blues midfielder is now likely to be fit for the match.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was also in action showing off his reflexes as he bids to win his first club competition. 

Hazard and left-back Marcos Alonso were seen squatting as they fight for a starting spot in Baku. 

Olivier Giroud, who will be hoping to start the match, was spotted working on his strength. 

The player who might stop Giroud starting is Gonzalo Higuain who was working out with Mateo Kovacic.  

Maurizio Sarri is being lined up by Juventus to replace outgoing coach Massimiliano Allegri

Maurizio Sarri is being lined up by Juventus to replace outgoing coach Massimiliano Allegri

Maurizio Sarri is being lined up by Juventus to replace outgoing coach Massimiliano Allegri

Hazard and left-back Marcos Alonso were seen squatting as they fight for a starting spot

Hazard and left-back Marcos Alonso were seen squatting as they fight for a starting spot

Hazard and left-back Marcos Alonso were seen squatting as they fight for a starting spot

Olivier Giroud, who will be hoping to start the match, was spotted working on his strength

Olivier Giroud, who will be hoping to start the match, was spotted working on his strength

Olivier Giroud, who will be hoping to start the match, was spotted working on his strength

The player who might stop Giroud starting is Gonzalo Higuain who was working out on Monday

The player who might stop Giroud starting is Gonzalo Higuain who was working out on Monday

The player who might stop Giroud starting is Gonzalo Higuain who was working out on Monday



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