England striker lavishes praise on Arsenal's record signing Ozil.
“He’s a clever player,” said Rooney of the opponent he will face for England at Wembley on Tuesday night. “He doesn’t stick to one position, he moves along the line. He moves in behind positions in midfield, he can score and assist goals. He’s a fantastic player.”
Admiration, and a tinge of regret? David Moyes’s revelation that he passed up the chance to sign Ozil from Real Madrid during the summer was portrayed as a glaring error by the Scot.
Ozil has, of course, since become Arsenal’s record signing, and made an immediate impact in north London, scoring twice and creating four more goals for the Gunners.
Rooney was the man who challenged Sir Alex Ferguson over his failure to sign Ozil three years ago. Indeed, the disagreement almost saw Rooney leave Old Trafford.
And currently, Rooney can only dream of playing in a side with such creativity as Arsenal. Where Arsene Wenger has Ozil leading defenders a merry dance, alongside the free-scoring Aaron Ramsey and Spaniard Santi Cazorla, United appear almost bereft of genuine attacking invention, relying instead on the goals of Rooney and Robin van Persie.
Perhaps Moyes feels that in Adnan Januzaj, he has a player who one day – perhaps sooner than many think – will be a figure to rival Ozil and the best players in the world.
From his other midfielders there has been little attacking flair, with Marouane Fellaini yet to find form since his move from Everton, the likes of Nani and Ashley Young frustratingly inconsistent and Shinji Kagawa yet to have any real impact in the side.
It is little wonder that Rooney, a world-class player who thrives on playing alongside similarly talented individuals, is casting envious glances at the Emirates.
When was the last time Rooney spoke so highly of an Arsenal player? It is not a familiar feeling for a man who, until this season, has become used to looking down the table at Arsenal, and playing alongside players of superior quality to United’s great rivals.
Perhaps it acts as a motivation; Rooney helped United overcome Arsenal in the Premier League two weeks ago, when Ozil’s threat was nullified by the home side’s defence.
But it spoke volumes that United’s 1-0 win over the Gunners felt like an upset, and while Ozil keeps producing the goods for Arsenal the way he has done so far, Rooney can only look on in admiration, and with not a little regret.
image: © nasmac