Mesut Ozil is unfairly being used as a scapegoat as Arsenal’s season threatens to fall apart, according to the German’s agent.
The Gunners were thrashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Manager Arsene Wenger admitted it had been a ”nightmare” for his side after they shipped three goals in the space of 10 second-half minutes.
The future of the long-serving Frenchman has again come into question from supporters and pundits alike, as has the direction of his team which once again appeared devoid of leadership when needed most.
German playmaker Ozil found himself singled out by critics for failing to deliver a performance against quality opposition, but the 28-year-old’s lawyer and representative Dr Erkut Sogut told BBC Sport it was misdirected.
“Criticism is normal if a player plays badly, but Mesut feels people are not focusing on his performance; they are using him as a scapegoat for the team after bad results,” Dr Sogut said.
“Bayern had 74 percent possession. How can someone in the No. 10 position create chances if you don’t have the ball?
“In these games people usually target a player who cost a lot of money and earns a lot of money — that is Mesut. But he can’t be always be the scapegoat. That’s not fair.
“Football is a team sport and Arsenal are not performing well as a team. Eleven players were on the pitch, but Mesut was singled out for criticism. Was he the reason that Arsenal conceded five goals?
“It started before the match, throughout the week leading up to the game. People started discussing: ‘Should he play? Should he be dropped?’
“It was as if everyone knew Arsenal would not make it through and we needed a scapegoat. This is not right. You win as a team and you lose as a team.”
Ozil, who joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013 for a club-record £42.4 million, has yet to agree a contract extension with the North London club past the end of his current deal, which expires next year.
Sogut maintained his client was the player for the big occasion.
“I don’t agree that Mesut has not had an impact on big matches,” Sogut added.
“What about the win at home to Chelsea this season and Manchester United the year before? What about the games for Germany against Italy and France at Euro 2016?
“People are always saying Mesut is not fighting or tackling, that he has poor body language, but that is how he is.
“Believe me, he is desperate to succeed. If it doesn’t work, he shows his anger and expressions. Was his body language an issue when Arsenal were playing well?
“He is not someone who runs around aimlessly and tackles just so everyone thinks he is fighting. If it doesn’t make sense to run somewhere he will keep that power for the next run.”
Arsenal’s next fixture is a FA Cup fifth-round tie away at non-league Sutton on Monday night, when Gunners fans will be expecting a response from Wenger’s beleaguered squad.
Sogut added: “I don’t think the criticism has affected his performance or his mental state. Mesut is committed to the club. There is no doubt that he will perform at 100 percent, with total professionalism and commitment as long as he plays for Arsenal. Nothing will change that.
“He is sorry to the fans, and he’s sorry that he and his teammates couldn’t give the fans a better result in Munich.”
Four of the Bayern goals came after Laurent Koscielny had been forced off through injury.
The French defender admitted Arsenal failed to “stay together” as they were humbled by the Bundesliga champions.
Koscielny told Arsenal TV: “You need to stay together, defend together with all 11 players and keep this. We didn’t. Bayern played very well — they have some top-class players who can make the difference up front.”
Despite the second-half capitulation, Koscielny insists Arsenal will fight to overturn the chasm in the home leg, but they would have to become the first team in the history of the Champions League to come back from a four-goal deficit and advance.
“In football, you never know,” he said.
“We are professional, we have a second leg and we will try to win. But after a game like this it’s very difficult. But we’ll fight because we are professional and we play for Arsenal.”