If Mesut Ozil Goes to DC United, Is He Immediately the Best Player in MLS?

Posted By Chops on August 8, 2019

Goodbye Wayne Rooney. Hello…Mesut Ozil?

Reports broke today and were confirmed by ESPN FC that DC United will begin holding talks with Arsenal about bringing Mesut Ozil to MLS during the January transfer window.

Who is Mesut Ozil?

Ozil, 30, for a time was considered among the best midfielders in the world. He’s certainly paid like one, earning $22.2M per year.

Ozil joined Arsenal in 2013 and enjoyed a number of elite seasons. His 2015-16 domestic campaign was particularly impressive, as he tallied 6 goals and an absurd 19 assists for the Gunners. That’d be good for second all time, behind Thierry Henry’s 20 in 2002-03.

The German international though has fallen way out of favor with manager Unai Emery. As prolific of an offensive weapon as Ozil can be, he now contributes almost nothing defensively.

Regardless, Ozil has plenty of silverware in his trophy case. He’s won three FA Cups with Arsenal, a La Liga title with Real Madrid (2011-12), and a World Cup with Germany in 2014.

How would Ozil do in MLS?

Frankly, he’d rip the league up.

His lack of defensive work wouldn’t be much of an issue as he’d be so much better than anyone else in the league offensively (see: Ibrahimovic, Zlatan).

The two obvious comparables for how he’d do would be Wayne Rooney and Zlatan.

Rooney’s last season in the Premier League with Everton (2017-18, age 31) saw him tally 10 goals and 2 assists in 2,284 minutes. His 6.64 WhoScored rating was fairly average.

Ibra’s last full season with Manchester United (2016-17, age 34) saw him tear the league up for 17 goals, 5 assists in 2,437 minutes and a 7.41 WhoScored rating.

As noted, Ozil fell out of favor with Emery last season. He still managed 5 goals, 2 assists in 1,742 minutes for a 6.78 WhoScored rating. The drop off with Ozil didn’t appear age related. It was fit.

The pre-Emery ’17-18 season Ozil tallied four goals, 8 assists in
2,164 for a 7.25 rating. This seems a little closer in line to how Ozil would perform in a more featured role.

At 30, he’s still on the tail-end of his prime. He’s a next-level passer at his best. At a less intense speed-of-play, I could see the game slowing down for Ozil like he was Neo at the end of The Matrix. Perhaps being away from the scrutiny and drama he’s faced in Europe recently would also free him up to enjoy the game and buy-in more.

For Ozil, DCU, and MLS’ sake, I hope this transfer happens.

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Chops is the executive producer of High Press Soccer. He's an unabashed Liverpool fan who will absolutely let that bias seep into his reporting and analysis.

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