‘I don’t care what peo­ple think of me,’ says Ozil on crit­ics

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In­sists he lis­tens to those in­side his in­ner cir­cle

OPIN­IONS and Me­sut Ozil go hand-in-hand. You’ll have reached your own con­clu­sions about the enig­matic Ger­man. Ge­nius, lazy, lux­ury player, dis­in­ter­ested, un­pa­tri­otic or un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated; what­ever the stigma, Ozil’s prob­a­bly been called it.

Of course, those opin­ions are wholly en­ti­tled — Ozil ad­mits as much as he sits down with

Sports­mail for a rare news­pa­per in­ter­view.

But don’t ex­pect Ozil to lis­ten. Don’t ex­pect him to take it to heart. Don’t ex­pect him to care.

“Look, I know there’s peo­ple out there that like me, there are also peo­ple who don’t like me,” Ozil says.

“This is a fact of life. But, for me, what is im­por­tant is what the peo­ple in my in­ner cir­cle tell me.

“I don’t care what peo­ple say out­side of that. It doesn’t af­fect me. If the coach, or peo­ple in my cir­cle, tell me: "Me­sut you have to do this, or have to do that" then I lis­ten. I’ll take that and work on it.

“But I don’t look at what some­one else is say­ing. It re­ally doesn’t af­fect me.”

You can make your own mind up about who Ozil’s re­marks are aimed at. Pun­dits? Maybe.

It was less than a fort­night ago he was de­scribed as ‘petu­lant’ by Graeme Souness. Ozil will ar­gue he’s been called far worse.

Or maybe it’s those who crit­i­cised him for the rea­son­ing be­hind his in­ter­na­tional re­tire­ment af­ter Ger­many’s dis­as­trous World Cup cam­paign.

The mid­fielder, born to Turk­ish par­ents, cited ‘dis­crim­i­na­tion’ as his rea­son be­hind walk­ing away from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball.

“I am Ger­man when we win, an im­mi­grant when we lose,” said Ozil — a de­vout Mus­lim — in July when an­nounc­ing his in­ter­na­tional re­tire­ment. Yet there’s no anger or re­sent­ment in Ozil’s tone when dis­cussing crit­i­cism.

In­stead, his re­sponse is cool and cal­cu­lated, with the same pre­ci­sion as his out­ra­geous out­side of the boot pass to setup Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang in last month’s win over Le­ices­ter.

In­evitably, that game against the Foxes comes up in con­ver­sa­tion. How could it not? Ozil was breath­tak­ing that night — a goal fol­lowed by his sub­lime as­sist.

All that on an evening when he was cap­tain­ing Arse­nal for the very first time. Unar­guably, one of — if not his best — per­for­mance in an Arse­nal shirt.

In­deed, Unai Emery’s rev­o­lu­tion is quickly tak­ing shape — and Ozil is a cen­tral fig­ure in the Gun­ners resur­gence since Arsene Wenger’s de­par­ture.

The Ger­man play­maker has been at the cen­tre of Arse­nal's resur­gence this year.

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