Mesut Ozil says that he took advice from Robert Pires when faced with criticism of his playing style.
In his upcoming book ‘Gunning for Greatness: My Life’, the German says that while he took on board suggestions that he had to become more physically powerful to cope with the Premier League, he remained faithful to his ability with the ball after fiscussions with the former Gunner.
Pires trains regularly with the first team, and has grown close to the 28 year old since his arrival at the club in 2013.
“I haven’t changed that much as a player,” wrote Ozil, “partly on the advice of Robert Pires, the Arsenal legend who often looked in on us when his career ended.
“Over the years he has become more than a friend. He’s someone I can discuss problems with and whose opinion is incredibly important to me.
“When the media started having a go at me again, demanding that I become more selfish and score more goals, I asked him what he thought. I wanted to know if he judged these criticisms to be correct.
“He encouraged me to stick with my way of playing. ‘Let them say what they like,’ he said. ‘You’ve got a unique style. You’re not like Ronaldo. You’re different.
“You see spaces that barely any other player does. You can read a game. Trust in your extraordinary ability and don’t adjust your game merely because this is what outsiders are telling you to do.’
“It did me the world of good to hear this assessment from him. He’s not someone who tells me what I want to hear and doesn’t dare criticise me. Quite the opposite.
“After poor performances I had to listen to Pires say quite a lot, which I value enormously.”