Seriously though, why did Ozil bother travelling all the way to Azerbaijan only to disappear like a crewman on the Marie Celeste?

Big stages demand big performances from big players. Ozil contributed a big zero in his 77 minutes before idling off the field after being substituted with all the urgency of a sloth on his summer holidays with his side 4-1 down.

He was not alone in his no show but as Arsenal’s highest-paid player and a World Cup winner he was the man who should have provided the lead. Instead he took the night off.

The comparison with Eden Hazard’s inspirational contribution in blue was embarrassing.

As Hazard celebrated his exquisite goodbye on the Baku pitch, Ozil sat alone with his thoughts in the dugout.

The Azerbaijan misadventure should represent the tipping point in the Ozil saga. If the final was a one-game event his anonymous performance would have been a disappointment but his influence on Arsenal has now receded to the point where it is time for the club to offload and start again.

He is Arsenal’s most talented player but what good is talent locked away in a drawer in the attic?

This season, after his retirement from international football, he has appeared to be in drift mode.

Supposedly a creator, the quickest player to 50 assists in Premier League history has managed just two this season. His distance statistics have dropped too – from 9.63km per game last season to 8.48km this campaign.

It would be wrong to accuse him of not trying – in professional sport only match-fixers and Nick Kyrgios do that – but his failure to impose his ability consistently is a huge frustration.

Surrounded by A-list players at Real Madrid and with Germany he shone – that is what persuaded Arsenal to pay a then club record £42m for him in 2013 and he has had his golden moments for them. But in the current moderate side, which has found its level in the Europa League, a special player has regressed into an ordinary one.

Higher talents are always judged to higher standards but the greatest sin for a sportsman is not maximising god-given gifts and Ozil is manifestly failing to do that.

Others less bountifully blessed in football and the wider sporting world wring every last drop out of themselves.

Take besotted Gooner Ian Poulter. He is not a great golfer by pro standards yet every tournament you know he is going to scrap on every shot of every hole. He has won 17 events worldwide and become a Ryder Cup legend.

Poulter’s reaction on social media after Arsenal’s capitulation – “Can’t even speak right now. Very disappointing” – echoed the sentiments of many.

It is clear the shelves need restocking at the Emirates but where once the rebuilding operation would have preserved Ozil as the centre of the Arsenal universe that is no longer the case.

He is a luxury item who, with his boulder clay ramparts, personifies the side’s flaws.

It would make sense to cash in the chips and use the money from his sale to build a more combative, meaner Arsenal – one that does not leak 51 goals a season in the Premier League. If they can find a buyer.

At 30, and with two years left on his £350,000-per week contract, that may not be straightforward.

Not with Wednesday evening’s non-existent highlights reel as a sales tool.

source: express.co.uk

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