Paul Scholes, a notoriously private, quiet figure during his legendary run at Manchester United, has made more noise in the British press since taking up a weekly column for the Independent last year, than he did his entire 20-year playing career.
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Often times, Scholes uses his column to put into perspective just how great some of the game’s greatest legends — past, Thierry Henry, and present, Lionel Messi — truly are. He’s also used his platform to share controversial opinions about the modern game, and more particularly, some of the biggest stars playing today, which is what he’s done this week in calling Mesut Ozil’s decision to join Arsenal last summer the “easy option.”
In short, Scholes touches on topics interesting enough that it insures the time he spends writing each week isn’t a complete waste of his time.
It has been said that Arsenal have been better this year, but they still seem to be liable to crumble against a good opponent who is much more focused, as Monaco were last week. Over the years, the big players who were really ambitious – [Patrick] Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie – have all left. They left for the simple reason that Arsenal are not in it to win league titles any more.
Those players have realized that if they want to win championships then they have to move elsewhere. It’s why I think Mesut Özil took the easy option joining Arsenal. Since he has been there you cannot doubt his quality but at times he looks like he is going through the motions, however much ground he covers. He needs a leader around him to get him going. At Real Madrid he had a chance of winning league titles. At Arsenal that is not on the cards.
Arsene Wenger, of course, disagrees and was quick to defend his star player. From the Guardian:
“Scholes would have loved to have played with a player like Mesut Ozil. [Ozil] has the quality and he works a lot harder than his style of play shows.”
It seems as though Wenger completely missed Scholes’s point, and the part where he says “however much ground he covers.” If I’m comprehending what Scholes is saying correctly, he’s saying the mental pressure to perform like a star week in and week out doesn’t weigh on Ozil at Arsenal the way it did at Real Madrid.
There is no greater pressure in sports than being expected to lead your team to titles, and as Scholes points out, that’s not something Ozil has to worry about at Arsenal.