Why Mesut Ozil was one of Arsenal’s best ever signings

Written by Edward Pitt

January 12, 2021

With the recent comments by Fenerbahce president Ali Koc about Mesut Ozil, it seems increasingly likely that Mesut will be heading for the exit door this January. The German international has not played for the Gunners since March. Whilst the ‘official’ story is that this is due to footballing reasons, to most Arsenal fans it appears clear that his exile is because of comments about the Chinese Government. Koc has clarified that it would be a ‘dream’ for the Turkish club to sign Mesut and it is certainly a deal they are pursuing. They also are apparently ‘closer than before’. This to me means that Mesut may have changed his tune. He had previously been thought to be happy to see out his contract and leave for a free, but Mesut could be persuaded with a move to his boyhood favourite.

In a recent Twitter Q&A, he said that it was his favourite team while growing up in Germany. To me, a departure to the Turkish club appears ominous, and I think realistically it is what is best for all parties. It is clear we have no intention of playing him so we may as well cash in. Ozil will want to be playing football again. And Fenerbahce will get their hands on a player who can help take them to another level. 

While his time at Arsenal has ended on a sour note, this does not justify some of the comments from rival fans and even some of our own about him being a flop. Mesut Ozil has been one of our best ever signings. His £42 million transfer from Real Madrid marked the end of a really poor few years at Arsenal. The squad was in a very poor state in terms of quality. Prior to him coming in we could only boast two top quality players really in Cesc and RVP. When both of these guys left the squad was not looking great. However, signing Santi in one season and Ozil the next help rescue our team. We were top at Christmas in his first season and this was largely thanks to the goals of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut’s chance creation. If we had a clinical number 9 in this season, I think he might just have won the league in his first season.

In his second season he bulked up a bit. Now he was able to play with the higher physical demands, whilst still playing passes that very few players in football could play. In this 2014/15 season we also saw the birth of perhaps the best PL duo in this period. Then in the 2015/16 season we had Ramsey, Sanchez and Giroud on top form for the first half of the season. Mesut racked up an incredible 19 assists. KDB has only ever beaten this total once which happened last season. De Bruyne did this in a far superior team that scores hundreds of goals a season. It was the kind of standards that should have won us a title, if not for Alexis and Giroud losing their hot streak in the latter stages of the season. 

In 2016/17 he added goals to his game and in 2017/18 he signed his contract extension and played his final season under the only Arsenal manager to know the value of Mesut. Once Wenger left, Ozil’s Arsenal career slowly started to decline. That’s not to say that we had completely lost our Mesut though as he continued to display glimpses of pure footballing genius. Like the performance against Leicester in18/19. 

In fact, Mesut is if anything underrated. He has matched David Silva pretty much stride for stride in terms of goal contributions per game with both of them getting a goal or assist every other game. Yet people consider Silva as Premier League great but Ozil as a complete flop. I’m not making this point to discredit anything Silva has done; in fact I do class him as a great and would probably give him the edge over what Mesut has done in England. However, this debate is a lot closer than people realise. The defence for Silva is that he would always get the pre-assist. Well so would Mesut. I think he might have the best pre-assist ever made with THAT pass to Kolasinac against Burnley. Some also say Silva plays in a deeper role, however it wasn’t really until the 17/18 season where Pep started using him here. Until this point he was given the creative freedom of an out and out attacking midfielder. And with Silva creating for the likes of Dzeko, Aguero, Jesus, Sterling and Sane, it is mightily impressive that Ozil could match his numbers over the years.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if in 2013 Manchester City sold David Silva and signed Mesut Ozil, they would have been no less successful over the following 7 years. 

The truth of the matter is that players like Silva and Ozil are facilitators. Not every created chance has to turn into an assist for them to have value to a team. Sometimes one killer pass to split the lines is enough to turn a tide. Force a defence to turn and it can generally change the territories that their teams are occupying. Every team would sit deep against Arsenal, because for a number of years we played some of the best football in the country. Yet, with Ozil in our team, we were able to still score plenty of goals in that time. I think we are seeing exactly what I mean by that this season. If all you have is sideways passers in your team, why wouldn’t every side sit deep against you. Ozil simply made everyone around him better and far more confident.

Whilst there is a minority of Arsenal fans who have never appreciated, I speak for the majority of Arsenal fans (or at least those who know football) when I say that Mesut Ozil is a club legend and certainly one of our best ever signings. Thank you for nearly 8 brilliant years. 

 

 

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