The 30-year-old defender has insisted his compatriot and Arsenal’s club-record signing Mesut Ozil can be the best player in England.
Ozil arrived in North London from Real Madrid in the summer for £42.4million making him the most expensive German player in history but, alas, with such a price-tag comes a weight of expectation and an immense responsibility under which Ozil has become a target for criticism in recent weeks.
The 25-year-old play-maker’s display against Bayern Munich at the Emirates in the first-leg of Arsenal’s last-16 Champions League tie brought him in the firing-line as critics called him lazy and overrated. But his performance in the last weekend’s 4-1 FA Cup win over Everton at the Emirates, in which he scored the opening goal and provided the assist for the Gunners' fourth, seems to have held the doubters at bay.
This evening Ozil will line up against a number of his Germany colleagues as the Gunners take on the Bavarians at the Allianz Arena hoping to overturn a two-goal deficit suffered in the first leg of the tie. Despite being rivals tonight, Lahm has backed Ozil to be the best in England.
"Mesut is in a new league - but next season he can be the best player in England. He has the attitude and desire to do that," Lahm said.
Ozil explained in recent weeks that his lack of pre-season preparation with Arsenal may have had an impact on his form and fitness in his debut Premier League season. Fatigue and subsequent frustration had seemed to be a factor in some performances this year but, as Lahm states, there are few players with his natural ability and intelligence in the English top tier.
"Anybody who has played with Mesut knows what an exceptional player he is,” he added.
"He is one of the most gifted and intelligent players in Europe, and I think his assist record says everything you need to know about him."
There has been a tendency for players from foreign leagues to struggle with the physical demands and tiring schedule of the Premier League – especially those players who sign for the English teams also competing in European competitions.
Meanwhile, with the reactionary nature of the industry, pundits and fans can also add pressure to players struggling to find their match-fitness and form. One only need look at the Gunners’ top scorer Aaron Ramsey this term compared to the last two years since his return from injury to see what a decent pre-season, time and patience can do for a player’s confidence and form.
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