Liverpool legend Dietmar Hamann has defended Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, following harsh criticism of his World Cup performances.
Ozil has started every one of Germany’s games during their run to the semi-finals, scoring in the 2-1 extra-time win over Algeria in the last 16, but his displays have largely flattered to deceive thus far.
With former national team legend Paul Breitner one of several high-profile figures to call for the 25-year-old to be dropped, Hamann has moved to back the midfielder, believing the criticism to be both unnecessary and unwarranted.
'It's very harsh. I think he has played fine, doing a decent job for the team,’ he said. ‘In Germany, people tend to be critical no matter how he plays.
‘I think he has improved as the tournament has gone on. Work-rate is not the issue, German fans want him to create opportunities and score the goals.
‘You need creative players, sometimes you have to give them some freedom and he deserves that.’
Having signed for Arsenal from Real Madrid last September for a fee believed to be around £42.5 million, Ozil is coming off an up-and-down first season with the Gunners, in which he scored seven goals in 40 games across all competition, while receiving mixed reviews for his performances.
With 60 caps and 18 goals, the former Stuttgart prospect is playing in his second World Cup with Germany, having made the semi-finals at South Africa 2010, while also helping the team to reach the same stage at Euro 2012.
With Joachim Low’s side looking to surpass their performance from four years ago, Tuesday’s semi-final against hosts Brazil certainly poses a tough test and a stellar outing from Ozil would be a massive boost to their chances, as they look to ride his playmaking skills to their fourth World Cup title.