Mesut Ozil splits football fans. Some think he is world class, others think he is lazy and inconsistent. Love him or hate him he is one of the biggest stars in world football. This was evident when he decided to come to the Premier League in 2013. Leaving Real Madrid and becoming Arsenal’s record signing at the time, Alexandre Lacazette broke that record this summer. Arsenal only have 3 FA Cup wins to show for Ozil’s time in London. With so much expectation on his shoulders has his time been a success?
Initially the signing looked fantastic for Arsenal. Even though Real were looking to offload Ozil to balance their squad after a busy summer of buys they still got a wonderful footballer. A indirect triumph came in the way of their rivals Tottenham losing Gareth Bale which in turn made Ozil available for ‘the Gunners’ to sign. The majority of football fans thought that Madrid had made a mistake. Even their star players thought so.
“He was the player who best knew my moves in front of goal … I’m angry about Özil leaving.” (Cristiano Ronaldo, 2013)
Ozil was greeted with hero status at The Emirates Stadium as you would expect. He was the marquee signing that year with very little going in and going out of the club. It showed. Not much changed for Arsene Wenger’s side as they retained fourth spot in the league. However, there was the first of Ozil’s FA Cup successes in his first season. It looked like great progress for Arsenal, their first trophy in 9 years. The new German playmaker would feel no more than satisfied with his first season performance scoring 7 times and creating 11 in all competitions.
It is often suggested that Ozil needs players around him. Wenger possibly had that in the back of his mind when he signed Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona in the summer after their domestic cup victory. He must have also felt the club needed more to challenge on all fronts. An early season boost saw them claim the curtain raiser, the Community Shield.
They also improved their league position to third but never looked as though they would lift the trophy. Defending the FA Cup was special, but it was not enough. The season did not feel like a success. Ozil did not improve either, 5 goals and 9 assists. He missed a chunk of the season due to injury which may have affected that.
Another 2 seasons passed by and Arsenal claimed another Community Shield and another FA Cup. They finished second in the league before falling to fifth last season. They started this campaign with another Community Shield success but it feels like the set of players are underachieving. Ozil’s Arsenal career stands in the balance. He is 29 and will want to add some serious silverware to his collection. Playing 169 times for Arsenal scoring 33 times and notching up 59 assists are good numbers but he can be better.
Arsenal need to grow to help him succeed or else he will be open to leaving. Rumours that Jose Mourinho wants to snatch him will strike fear into Wenger. He will not want a repeat of Robin van Persie leaving to their arch rivals.
Ozil is a superb player, he creates for others around him. When times are good he performs and is in a league of his own. When they are going wrong he disappears. Ozil is a luxury player and unfortunately for him at the moment many around him are. Wenger likes to play in a certain way and even though everybody involved in football suggests he should sign some defensive players he does not.
Arsenal must keep the German World Cup winner if they want to progress and clinch the league title. If Wenger can assemble the pieces around him the sky is the limit. It will mean the long term Arsenal manager will have to stray away from his comfort zone and sign some physical defensive players. He brings something different to the team and losing him now would be a disaster for the club. He is the key to the success of the club, Wenger must keep him.
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