Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil's agent compares midfielder to Muhammad Ali

Sean Walsh
Ozil has been a divisive figure
Ozil has been a divisive figure / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Mesut Ozil's agent, Dr Erkut Sogut, has described his client as 'the Muhammad Ali of football' and has opened up on the midfielder's decline at Arsenal.

The German playmaker signed for the Gunners on deadline day of the summer 2013 transfer window for a then-club record fee of £42.5m from Real Madrid.

Over the next six-and-a-half seasons - up until he joined boyhood club Fenerbahce on a free transfer - Ozil became one of the most divisive figures in English football on the pitch, while he was very vocal off of it.

He spoke out against China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in 2020, a move which Arsenal controversially distanced themselves from, and Sogut praised how Ozil handles situations like this, comparing him to legendary boxer Ali.

"He is a hero because he's outspoken, because he says things that others don't say. It was like: ‘Thank you Mesut for having a voice for people in need. You are the Muhammad Ali of football'," Sogut said, referencing his client's recent trip to Indonesia.

"I would say it [players being outspoken] was new for everyone, for [Arsenal] as well. They were a club that was always neutral in terms of political things but they are not neutral any more, right? They gave it up.

"Now they’re outspoken about issues in the world which when it was Mesut they said: ‘We don't want to discuss things like that’. But it was a development I think for them as well as a club that things are changing and they have to adapt as well. They can't just stay neutral in certain situations. Now they have spoken up with Ukraine. They are now taking a position as a club."

Ozil was criticised in his final few seasons at Arsenal for his work ethic and general decline, and while Sogut admitted things 'didn't work' with his client at the Emirates Stadium, he believes football can be random and opportunistic.

"It’s football and sometimes it just doesn’t work," he added.

"Look, for example: Antonio Rudiger, amazing football player. [Frank] Lampard comes and doesn’t play him. But he’s world class, German national team, but the [Chelsea] coach is not playing him and then he was thinking about leaving. 

"Suddenly the coach is going, he plays again and now he is at Real Madrid. So it’s sometimes from the coach’s perspective, sometimes the player. It’s so many factors coming together and that’s also with Mesut. He is discussed so much because he does so much off the pitch, talking about issues other players wouldn’t talk about."

Ozil has been frozen out of the Fenerbahce squad this year, though Sogut did add that he will not be leaving the club this summer.