3 reading minute
05/12/2022 | 07:45 am
In 2010, a certain no-nonsense playmaker lit up South Africa with former Arsenal star Mesut Ozil really burst onto the scene.
At the time, he was playing for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga before his sensational performances at the World Cup saw him earn a big move to Real Madrid.
During that tournament, no player would assist more goals than Ozil’s three, while only five players, including Lionel Messi and Xavi, would play more than his 2.9 key passes per game.
This number was better than Robin van Persie, Steven Gerrard, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard.
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Clearly, in the elite company, there was hardly any risk associated with the move and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ozil would go on to become one of the best creators, subsequently registering 54 La Liga and 58 Premier League assists for the Gunners.
His fall from grace is therefore all the more peculiar. Exiled by North London, he eventually left on a free transfer and now plies his trade for Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey.
It’s hard to argue that Mikel Arteta and co have missed him. Since his departure, they have been growing with another ex-Madridista as a nucleus; Martin Odegaard.
That said, with Emile Smith Rowe injured and Fabio Vieira in an adjustment period in the capital, there is a sense that there is room for another creator in the central areas of the Emirates Stadium.
That honor could go to Lovro Majer. The Croatian has been linked with a move to Islington in recent months and if a deal can be struck, he could be the club’s new Özil.
Sporting a headband and curly hair, the 24-year-old hasn’t made an Ozil-like impact in Qatar this autumn, but there are signs he could be a wonder player.
Majer has been restricted to substitute appearances so far, but when called upon he has been a lively performer for Zlatko Dalic’s side.
He has scored a goal in his limited time on the pitch, meaning he has found the net every 23 minutes, the highest scoring rate of the entire tournament.
Like Ozil, he has a small piece of World Cup history, with that record highly unlikely to be broken in the rest of the competition.
The attacking midfielder is a natural at beating the goalkeeper, scoring 19 goals for Dinamo Zagreb before moving to Rennes in Ligue 1. Since moving to France, he has netted a further eight goals in 55 outings.
However, like the German he is compared to, he is more of a creator in the middle, an orchestrator who certainly knows how to pick a pass.
He has 12 assists for Rennes, three of which have come this term with Majer showing an astute ability to unlock defences.
In the words of talent scout Jacek Kulig, the “phenomenal” midfielder has an “incredible left foot”, a statement that lends itself even more to Ozil’s similarities.
Kulig has also dubbed the Croatian a “highly technical player”, one that “the big clubs are sleeping on”.
With that in mind, it may be easier to sign him with others who have seemingly shied away from his talents thus far.
Majer’s addition might not be the flashiest, but it would certainly be exciting. After all, his potential in the game is immense, so much so that he could be the club’s new Ozil.