Reducing a footballer’s career down to raw data rarely does a player justice. Numbers can’t describe, for instance, a jaw-dropping half-turn into a pocket of space that didn’t exist moments earlier. Nobody did that quite like Mesut Özil in a Germany shirt.
The playmaker’s numbers do bear a mention, however. In 92 appearances for the national side, Germany’s No.10 was directly involved in 63 goals – 23 strikes and 40 assists. He was crowned national team player of the year five times. To top it all, he played an integral role as Germany lifted the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The numbers don’t lie: Özil has been a phenomenal performer for Germany.
Despite leaving the door ever-so-slightly ajar, the nature of Özil’s resignation makes a comeback highly unlikely. Jogi Löw, still licking his wounds after Germany’s disastrous title defense, needs to come up with a solution to a tricky question: How do you replace a player like Mesut Özil?
The obvious candidate from the current squad is Julian Draxler. The Paris Saint Germain man has often been deployed as a No.10 for Germany in the past, though usually only as a short-term fix in Özil’s absence, rather than a genuine permanent contender for the role.
There will be concerns, however, with Draxler often preferred on the wing for club and country. Whether or not this has more to do with stellar competition for places in both squads is neither here nor there. By the same age, Özil was a regular for Germany and Real Madrid.