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Mesut Özil’s international career is over

Age plus fallout from some other stuff calls time.

Korea Republic v Germany: Group F - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images,

Germany, to be generous, did not do well at this World Cup. Widely expected to either win the whole thing or come very close, they did the exact opposite - they won one game in their group, only scored two goals, and never once looked like a team that was going to do what everyone thought they would do.

Before the tournament, Arsenal and Germany lightning rod for unfounded criticism Mesut Özil got some very well deserved criticism by, along with Ilkay Gundogan, posing with Turkish president and champion of shutting down civil rights Recep Tayyep Erdogan for a picture prior to a Turkish election, just as the season was ending and Germany’s squad was gathering to start their World Cup preparations.

Erdogan is a very problematic leader on a lot of levels, most of which are too detailed to get into here on a sports blog, but suffice it to say that a guy playing for the German national team should probably not be having photo ops with a president who does not support (and actively harms) press freedom, civil rights, or anything that resembles reasonable thought in the year 2018, even if Özil is Turkish by descent.

At best, Özil was used by Erdogan to help lend legitimacy to his regime; at worst, Özil is a supporter of Erdogan. Either way it’s not a good look for Mesut, and since the picture ran, he has taken a whole lot of abuse for doing it. Özil has always been one who takes an unfair amount of criticism for his play, but in this case, the criticism he’s taking is probably at least a bit warranted?

And, if twitter is any guide, the uproar over the photo, combined with the poor performance of the German team, has had consequences:

Whether this costs him another World Cup is kinda unknown - he’d be 33 by the time Qatar rolls around, so he may not have been considered for that team anyway, but if this is true, he won’t be taking part in the European Championships in 2020, qualifying for which starts in March of next year.

While this is good news for Arsenal, because that’s less wear, tear, and absence from one of the club’s most important players, it’s an unfortunate way for Mesut’s international career to end, from both a playing and a PR perspective.