Joachim Low insists that out-of-form Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil remains an integral part of his Germany plans for this summer’s World Cup and has backed him to rediscover his best in the latter stages of this season.
Ozil suffered a week to forget in which he saw a tame penalty attempt saved by his compatriot Manuel Neuer as Arsenal slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in their Champions League last-16 first leg, before he was reported to have been involved in a collision with a photographer on Friday evening.
Having been given some extra time off training by manager Arsene Wenger to recover from a dead leg, Ozil wrote on his Facebook account today that he was back in training and “Getting ready for the match on Saturday” when the Gunners travel to the Britannia to face Stoke.
Low backed his international squad member, and speaking to German publication Bild, he said that he remains a “key player” in his plans for success at the World Cup in Brazil later this year.
“I’m counting on Mesut (for the World Cup), because I know that he wants success in tournaments: he’s shown that in the past,” Low admitted.
Concerns in Germany over Ozil’s form has led to calls that his place in Low’s starting line-up should go to Bayern attacking midfielder Mario Gotze, but the national manager acknowledged that Ozil had been voted by the German public as the National Team Player of the Year just last season, and added the 25-year-old has “been decisive in important qualifying games”.
“If you’re playing at Real Madrid or Arsenal, you have to live with criticism when it isn’t going well. Mesut can do that very well indeed,” Low added, stressing that Ozil is more than capable with being the star name at the Emirates since his £42.5m club-record move to Arsenal.
Low could look to follow the lead set by Bayern manager Pep Guardiola and deploy Gotze in a false-nine role, given his current lack of available options at striker. Mario Gomez has spent the bulk of the season sidelined through injury since completing his move to Fiorentina, while veteran Miroslav Klose – who was linked with a January move to Arsenal – has been below-par in recent outings.
Thomas Muller is also capable of leading the line for Low, which would likely see his Bayern team-mate Toni Kroos given a greater responsibility in the starting line-up than he has been afforded in the past.
Kroos is currently out of favour at Bayern due to a breakdown in communications over a new contract, with Premier League teams such as Manchester United and Arsenal said to be sniffing around over his availability in the summer.
But Low says he remains firmly in his plans, stating Kroos is “a crucial part of the plans for Brazil” as he looks to end Germany’s 18-year trophyless run.
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