When Werder Bremen parted with Ã¢ÂÂ¬4.5 million to sign 19-year-old Mesut Ozil in January 2008, the club's director of football Klaus Allofs said: Ã¢ÂÂThis transfer is about far-sightedness.Ã¢ÂÂ He knew that Werder would sooner or later lose brilliant playmaker Diego to a bigger club and was determined to have a successor waiting in the wings.
It says a lot for Ozil that he was able to seamlessly fill the void left by Diego when the brilliant Brazilian left for Juventus last summer, but could he do a similar job at Manchester United by replacing Old Trafford mainstay Paul Scholes?
The Germany midfielder has really stepped up to the plate at the Weserstadion since, scoring nine goals in 31 Bundesliga outings in the season just passed, helping Werder to a third place finish and sealing a place in next season's Champions League.
The 21-year-old has won many admirers thanks to his neat passing, impressive vision and intelligent link-up play for club and country, attributes similar to those which have seen Scholes achieve such prolonged success at Manchester United.
With Scholes, 36 in November, thought to be ready to draw the curtain on his Old Trafford career at the end of the coming season, Sir Alex Ferguson could do a lot worse than signing Ozil as a long term replacement, with the Werder playmaker certain to be able to mix it in the Manchester United engine room.
The Red Devils would be sure to face stiff competition from Europe's other top sides, should they seek to take Ozil to Old Trafford. His showing in Germany's 4-0 win against Australia last Sunday is generally considered to be one of the best individual performances at this summer's Wolrd Cup so far, and only served to ramp up the already substantial hype surrounding the midfielder.
Ozil's outstanding performance in the final did not come as a surprise; it merely acted as a confirmation of his talents. Born in Gelsenkirchen to Turkish parents in 1988, he was always considered his hometown club Schalke's hottest property. His vision was great, his technique impeccable. All he needed to become a star, it was felt, was some experience, a few more muscles and a willingness to score himself instead of always looking for the better-placed man.
Mesut Ozil Age 21 Position Attacking Midfield Nationality German Club Werder Bremen Games 144 Goals 18 (club career to date)
Talentspotter ratings:Heading - 4 Crossing - 8 Tackling - 4 Creativity - 9 Passing - 9 Work-rate - 7 Shooting - 7 Pace - 8 Dribbling - 8Overall Ã¢ÂÂ 8
With thanks to Uli Hesse