Arsenal transfer target Mesut Ozil: 10 things you need to know about Cesc Fabregas' replacement - plus video of him in action
Reports have circulated today that Arsenal have earmarked Mesut Ozil to be Cesc Fabregas' long-term midfield replacement. But what do we know about the undisputed rising star of the Bundesliga?
1) Mesut Ozil was born on October 15, 1988 in the German city of Gelsenkirchen and is a skillful midfield playmaker who can also operate on the wing.
2) After playing for various local sides, his big break came when he joined Schalke 04 as a 17-year old in 2005. As a youngster, his initial appearances were limited to the German League Cup (he'll fit right in at the Emirates, then...), but he quickly broke into the first team, helping Schalke 04 to a second place finish in the the 2006-07 Bundesliga season, and even appearing in the Champions League.
3) Things started to go wrong for Ozil at Schalke when he refused to sign a new contract. When dropping him from the first team had no effect, Schalke had little option to cash in on their prized asset. And so, after just 37 appearances, Ozil joined Werder Bremen on the 2008 January transfer window deadline day for €4.3million - the most expensive transfer fee ever paid for a German teenager.
4) Six months later he missed out on a title win again, as Werder Bremen finished the 2007-08 in second place, this time behind Bayern Munich. To date he's made 48 league appearances for Werder Bremen and chipped in with 7 goals.
5) Unlike many of his potential new young Arsenal teammates, Ozil does have a winner's medal to his name. He starred in Germany's equivalent of the FA Cup last season, scoring the only goal of the final as Werder Bremen beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0.
6) He wasn't quite so lucky in that season's UEFA Cup final, however, as his Werder Bremen side went down 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk after extra time.
7) Ozil is widely regarded as the future of German football, and is known in Bremen as "der Neue Diego" - a reference to his Brazilian midfield partner. This is why:
8) Despite being the son of third generation Turkish immigrants, Ozil pledged his international future to Germany from an early age. He made his his Under-21 debut as an 18-year old, and was an instrumental figure - not to mention goalscorer - in their 4-0 demolition of Stuart Pearce's young Lions in the 2009 European Championship final. Here's his effort:
9) By that time Ozil was already a full international, having made his debut in a friendly against Norway in February 2009. He's won a further four caps since, and bagged his first goal for Germany during this 2-0 friendly win over South Africa in September.
10) He's been linked with most of Germany's top sides and several in England - including Manchester United, Manchester City and Aston Villa. However, Ozil has gone on record as saying he'd prefer to sign for... Barcelona.
"I've found Barcelona fascinating, ever since I was small," he told the German press. "Signing for them is a dream of mine." Although if Cesc was to head to the Nou Camp, who's to say Ozil's thoughts wouldn't turn to the Emirates instead?