Manchester United star Juan Mata has revealed that the evolvement of modern football has left superstars like himself and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil essentially ‘extinct’.
In an interview with The Athletic (subscription required), Manchester United star Juan Mata has revealed that Mesut Ozil’s struggles at Arsenal recently can be attributed to the role of the traditional No.10 becoming “extinct”.
Ozil has found it difficult to find a place in Unai Emery’s side since he took the reins in north London. The World Cup winning playmaker has made just one Premier League appearance so far this season.
It’s clear to see that some of the world’s top footballers are stronger physically than their predecessors, Mata makes the point that creative players are less important than they used to be.
The Spaniard suggested that greats like Juan Roman Riquelme and Juan Carlos Valeron would struggle to be signed by top clubs in this day and age.
Here’s what Mata had to say on how changes in the game have impacted players like himself and Ozil:
“This type of player, his pure No 10, is … how do you say? Extinct? Maybe not extinct, but not as used as before.”
“In the past, there was always this pure No 10, behind the striker or the two strikers, depending on the team.”
“With different systems now, that position has evolved into a different one but these are players I like, where natural talent brings the best of them and they can change a game with a pass or something that nobody else sees.”
Here’s what the 31-year-old had to say when he was quizzed about Ozil’s current situation at Arsenal:
“To be honest, I don’t know what’s going on, I was with Emery for three years in Valencia and I know him very well but I don’t know the day-to-day thing in Arsenal right now.”
“But, of course, Ozil is a creator, a player with a lot of great quality that I like watching.”
Ozil and Mata are two fine examples of world class playmakers who have often looked lacklustre when they were tasked with playing in different roles – for example on the wings.
The nimble-footed attacking midfielders lack the physicality to make an impact when their deployed on the flanks and these positions often limit their chances to showcase their superb technical ability.
Maybe Ozil’s chances of finding a new lease of life at the Emirates would be boosted by a formation change from Emery – one that includes a traditional central attacking midfielder.
It will be extremely difficult for a player like Ozil to change the way he plays at this stage in his career, the way to get the best out of him looks to be playing him in the role where he established himself as a global superstar.