'People don't understand how important Ozil is' – Leno backs 'unbelievable' Arsenal playmaker despite lack of assists
Mesut Ozil’s creative ability is underrated by many fans, according to Arsenal and Germany team-mate Bernd Leno.
The 31-year-old midfielder has seen his influence at the Emirates Stadium wane in recent years, and he has just six Premier League goals and four assists to his name since the beginning of last season.
Leno, though, believes Ozil’s value is evident beyond basic statistics, and his vision helps open up space for his team-mates.
“I think his passing is very good, it’s unbelievable,” the goalkeeper told Soccer AM.
“Of course, in the last time he didn’t make too many assists but when you see how many chances he creates, he is maybe playing the one pass before the assist.
“He brings his team-mates into good positions and many people, they don’t see this.
“But when you see him every day in training and also on the pitch, you can feel how important he is and how important his passing is for the team.”
Despite his recent downturn in terms of pure numbers, Ozil maintains an impressive record of 77 assists in 254 appearances for Arsenal.
However, with the five-time Germany Player of the Year approaching the end of his lucrative Gunners contract, it seems likely his time in north London is drawing to a close.
Former Arsenal man Kevin Campbell recently advocated selling Ozil before his contract expires next summer, in order to fund a younger, more dynamic replacement.
“Arsenal need an all-rounder in midfield. Arsenal need someone in the middle of the pitch who not only can create, but he’s got legs and can break the play up. We miss that,” Campbell told the Metro.
“There was talk of should we go for Jack Grealish or James Maddison, this type of guy would improve Arsenal.
“No disrespect to Mesut Ozil, but Ozil is on the wrong side of his Arsenal career with a year left on his contract after this.
“But we need someone who’s going to be in there with legs, we need creativity, and someone that when the game's not going particularly well, he can get stuck in and knuckle down as well.”