Mesut Ozil is out of his damn mind. The 26-year-old German winger recently told Sport Bild that, "should I continue to improve myself and stay healthy, I want to get my hands on the Ballon d'Or in the upcoming years."
This is a patently insane thing to say while Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both have legs and are breathing through something other than a tube. Should he continue to improve himself, he may be able to move above the fifth best player on the German national team (in fact this has already been done for him via Philipp Lahm retiring). And that’s not counting the center backs, who we are not including because they get no respect from the press/award voters anyway.
But I digress. There are real, tangible reasons that Mesut Ozil cannot win the Ballon d’Or. And I am going to tell you what those are.
He’s in the wrong age group. Mesut Ozil is 26. Lionel Messi is 27. Even if Mesut Ozil practices and gets better at soccer, it won’t matter because at the same time Messi will be practicing and getting better at soccer. And by the time Messi is old enough that the world of soccer is no longer his plaything, Mesut Ozil will also be too old.
He’s too fragile. Ozil has a history of injuries, and has just come off a three month rehab for a hamstring injury, and players don’t tend to get injured less-often as they age. Said Ozil in the interview: "I am a world champion and play at a top club in the Premier League. It's far more physical here [England] than in Spain or in the Bundesliga. I constantly have bruises, but it only makes me stronger, and physically I feel better than ever before." We have a message for Ozil: having bruises all the time does not indicate the Premier League is more physical. It indicates that Mesut Ozil bruises easily.
He doesn’t perform well internationally. We should phrase that better. He doesn’t perform as well as a future Ballon d’Or winner should be performing internationally. Yes, Germany won the World Cup, but Ozil was just a cog in Germany’s extremely well-oiled machine. Could Germany have won the World Cup without Ozil? Yes, although it might have been more difficult. Could Germany have won the world cup without Lahm, Schweinsteiger or Neuer? The answer is an unequivocal “no.”
His club is not good enough. This is not a knock on Ozil himself, per se, but in the last five years every Ballon d’Or finalist has played for Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. You have to go back to Cristiano Ronaldo’s second-place finish in 2009 (Back when the award was still called the FIFA World Player of the Year) to find a finalist from the Premier League and back to 2004, when Thierry Henry was at the peak of his powers, to find an Arsenal player on the list. Henry finished second to Ronaldinho. Most would concede that Ozil is not at the level Henry was.
- The next generation. Paul Pogba is 22. Neymar is 23. Norwegian Messi is waiting in the wings. Ozil is good, but there are younger players who are already better than him. This spells trouble for Ozil’s Ballon d’Or hopes, which have likely been dashed before they even got off the ground.