Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has defended fellow countryman Mesut Ozil's willingness to perform when playing for Arsenal, expressing his surprise at the Gunners' play-maker's lack of involvement this season.
Ozil has only featured in 15 games during this year's campaign and has failed to win the trust of his manager Unai Emery, which has led many supporters to question whether the German's future lies away from the Emirates.
Despite rumours linking the 30-year-old with moves to Inter and Juventus in the January transfer window, Arsenal didn't receive any viable offers for the midfielder who currently earns £300,000 per week after signing a new contract with the club in 2018.
Gundogan, who has played alongside Ozil for the German national team, has admitted that he is shocked at his compatriot's current situation at Arsenal.
Speaking to sport360, the City midfielder declared that the Gunners star's apparent lack of enthusiasm during games is misunderstood: "I think people always criticise Mesut because they think his attitude on the pitch is not a good one, that he doesn't care that much.
"But I think people just struggle to accept that you can have the more emotional kind of players, the more aggressive ones and you have players like him, you know, that need maybe this calmness for their game.
"It looks a bit more elegant and slow, but believe me it's so difficult to defend against these kind of players.
"They make everything look so easy and I think sometimes you forget to appreciate these kind of things."
Referring to the fact that Ozil has only started thirteen Premier League games this season, Gundogan confessed his shock at the midfielder's lack of game time, saying: "A player like him, with his huge talent, I don't think it just surprises just me, but a lot of people, that he doesn't play regularly.
"Of course I have sympathy for him. Also, because I know the more regurlarly you play, the easier it is because you have the rhythm and just keep going and you don't think about certain things too much."
Gundogan's City and Ozil's Arsenal face each other later today in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium in what is set to be a huge game for both clubs.
The Citizens, who are currently third in the standings, can move within three points of leaders Liverpool with a victory whilst a win for the Gunners could see them edge closer to the top four.