Mesut Ozil is in many ways a lose-lose scenario in online debate. A player that continues to divide opinion among football fans and football fans in general. If you give him credit and admire him, you’re bias. If you slate him and criticise his work rate, you don’t understand football. The Arsenal play maker has had a mixed bag of a season. Initially frozen out before finding a way back into the Gunners’ starting lineup. Now under Arteta, he’s had some great performances and some not so great ones. Either way, when he is in full flow, it’s hard to deny the World Cup winner is unplayable.
The problem with the German international is his consistency. Even his biggest supporters and worshippers will admit that occasionally he’s just not in the game. Hence the joke of being invisible or a ghost. For a player of his quality and with his wages, you expect at least 7/10 performances every week. That’s just part and parcel of the industry, so I can understand the frustration about him on occasions. Of course his treatment under Unai Emery was unjust and ultimately played a part in his sacking.
Mesut Ozil – The hard worker
Yet there’s this common misconception that he doesn’t work hard enough. With his naturally lethargic body language, you can see why on the eye he looks lazy or doesn’t care. I think it’s just a British obsession with getting stuck in and running your socks off. That’s the nature of player our country typically produces and sometimes the more nimble, creative and less physically dominant midfielders are misunderstood. Brexit FC strikes again.
Before you rip into me, it was a joke! We’re not a political blog, far from it.
Even with this stereotype, when you look into the statistics, Ozil tends to be high up in terms of distance covered. Yesterday against Newcastle he covered 10.7 KM in distance, with only Granit Xhaka covering more. Coincidentally the two scapegoated Arsenal players are the ones ‘working hardest’ for the team. As I said, sometimes it isn’t easy to spot in the moment and that’s where stats come in.
More on the game against the Magpies, he was a joy to watch throughout. Energy, creativity, work rate and of the course finally a goal. Not to mention those beautiful first touches. Everything went through Ozil as he pulled the strings and orchestrated play like we’ve seen him do over the years. The only issue is, if he didn’t get the goal, he wouldn’t have anything to show for it. That’s where there’s a corridor of uncertainty about his contribution. Sometimes it’s not as black and white as a goal or assist. Or explicit as a crunching tackle. The little things that go unnoticed to most, like distance covered, chances created, key passes, etc, often mean so much.
Regardless, the real question is does he have a future at the Emirates under Mikel Arteta. With what looks like a long term patient project with an inexperienced but a highly rated young manager, you would expect the club to go in the direction of young players. The likes of Nketiah, Buyako Saka and Martinelli featuring regularly suggests that. But with that will come the sale and departures of the old guard. Would Mesut Ozil be in the category?
Age and wages – He’s not getting any better…
Well solely looking at age, yes. The former Real Madrid AM is now 31 years old. Past his prime and only going to get worse. We’ve seen that on his day, with some good finishing, he’s outstanding. That old cliche of form is temporary, class is permanent.
Yet there’s a clear physical deterioration from 3-4 years ago in the German. He’s lost a yard of pace and his stamina isn’t exactly getting better either. So if Arteta is looking towards the long term, getting his old teammate off the books may be ruthless decision that needs to be made. Even if it splits the fan base and perhaps the dressing room in the short term.
This isn’t just to do with age and a vision either. The other argument for this is his ridiculous contract. I’ve praised Ozil a lot in this article but also criticised him fairly. Yet it’s hard to argue he is worth the astronomical £350,000 per week. If we’re being real, it’s hard to argue anyone is worth that much money per week. But that’s a discussion for another day. Freeing up an estimated £16.8 MILLION per year could be massive for the Gunners.
How the Mesut Ozil money could be spent
That money can be redistributed in wages to offering younger players better contracts and committing them for the long term. But it also frees up money for the transfer window and we haven’t even spoken about a transfer fee yet. Selling Ozil and bringing in 1-2 young players with potential to be great players could be crucial. Though we can’t compare the amount of money, you can use Liverpool and Philippe Coutinho as an example. Or what Manchester United could do with Paul Pogba in the summer. Selling a star player for cash to then reinvest in the squad. Short term pain perhaps, but potential long term gain.
This is especially the case considering that most Arsenal fans aren’t convinced the Kroenke family’s ambitions for the club. If you have no certainty over financial backing by the board, you’ve got to somehow fund your transfers.
As I said earlier, he’s only going to get worse from this point on, depreciating his value. The only issue is who will take him. China’s obviously been ruled out now after his recent comments and the foreign player wage cap. Perhaps a club in Turkey, or the MLS can afford him. Either way, it makes practical sense for the North London side to sell him in the summer, especially if he can maintain his value with good performances.
The cutthroat business of football
I get that it’s hard to dislike Mesut Ozil. He finally seems happy at Arsenal, is a popular figure in the dressing room and produces moments of magic that you can only stand up and applaud. Not to mention, the bond between him and Mikel Arteta is so nice to see. Former teammates now player and manager. Makes you feel old!
However the issues to do with consistency, his age and of course, salary outweigh the positives for me. This isn’t just singling out the German play maker too. Even with his goal yesterday too, I think the club should look to sell Alexandre Lacazette too. Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I once again, I think it makes sense if you take emotion out of it.
“If you love to watch football, you love Ozil”Arsene Wenger on Mesut Ozil
The question you have to ask yourself – Is keeping Mesut Ozil really in the best interests of the squad and club? Not from a financial or long-term perspective in my opinion. Feel free to disagree with me and debate this in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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