Majestic, Lazy, Mercurial, Weak, there are many an adjective that one could use for Mesut Ozil. At his best, he could make a fool of even the best of defences with just one pass, at his worst though, he could cost his team points through his lack of positional discipline.
“There isnt a copy of him, not even a bad one” – Jose Mourinho on Ozil
Undoubtedly he is one of the best players of our time. Phillip Lahm described him as a person who can see things that no one else can. Jose Mourinho described him as the best Number 10 in the world. But now, he is seemingly on his way out of Arsenal. In the last year of his contract, people like Martin Keown believe that the maestro has mentally left Arsenal. This year, he has not recorded a goal or an assist until the game vs Everton. His defensive game was always in question but usually his attacking prowess would make up for it. This year too, his attacking numbers in terms of chance creation are superior to his peers but until the match vs Everton, it hadn’t materialised into goals or assists.
His ability to unlock defences is world renowned and on his day, he could make a mockery out of any defensive unit. However, The lingering question though, has always been about consistency. On his day, he makes Arsenal tick, gives them the edge. On his off days, his lack of defensive presence is visible as a spectator. Over the last few years, in the games he has not played Arsenal have looked out of ideas. But on the other hand, when they have come up against a quality opposition, he seems to be more of a liability due to his lack of work off the ball. The matches against Bayern Munich last year are a good example of that. When he had signed for Arsenal back in 2013, he seemed like the perfect fit. To have the best passer in the world managed by Arsene Wenger, an admirer of attractive football.
“If you love to watch football, you love to watch Ozil” – Arsene Wenger
In the 4 years, he has shown what a great player he is and he has also been exposed at times for what he isn’t. He almost broke Henry’s record of 20 assists in a season when he got 19 in the 2015-16 season. His numbers compared to others since he has arrived have been nothing short of exceptional. The biggest criticism of him though is that he does not turn up in the big games. That the work expected out of him in big games away from home is not being produced on a regular basis. He can also be a very flaky player, as we saw when his performances dropped towards the end of that 2015-16 season when he could have easily surpassed Henry’s record only for a poor second half of the season to intervene.
This year has seen a lot of criticism directed at him. To a layman, 1 goal and no assists from a player demanding 250,000 plus pounds a week is poor. But if we look at his stats compared to other players in his position, it shows that Ozil is doing his job well, which is creating chances. It is not his fault if the team is unable to finish them. When it comes to defence, he has stats are comparable to his peers but it is not something he is expected to do as an attacking midfielder. The problem Ozil has is the players behind him in Ramsey and Xhaka,both of whom like venturing forward themselves which stretches the team and exposes Ozil.
He has had his fair share of good memories at the club but now it seems like his time is coming to an end for various reasons. The contract negotiations initiated by Arsenal last year did not see an agreement reached. Rumour has it that there are currently no ongoing talks and come January, Ozil could leave or sign a pre-agreement with another club unless something drastically changes. Until recently, the media was speculating that Ozil would join Man Utd. That story seems to have been put to bed though by Ozil himself, saying ‘Ignore the noise and stay focused’.
One way or another, Arsenal need to prepare themselves for a future without Mesut Ozil. There are many people who could replace this German Genius, some of them are:
Draxler is a player that Arsenal have flirted with for years. He too is German, like Ozil. He is still 24, which means his best years are still ahead of him. This makes it seem like he is the obvious option and a deal is possible. PSG want to sign Alexis Sanchez and Arsenal want to get some value for him before he inevitably leaves. PSG cannot afford to spend more money without setting off FFP alarms. This makes an exchange deal possible in January. His close relationship with Sead Kolasinac from their Schalke days also seems to be making a difference with a recent Instagram story of his with Kolasinac’s Arsenal jersey sending the fans into meltdown.
Another German, another player for Schalke, Leon Goretzka is one of the future German stars. He is only 22 and lesser heard of than Draxler. Regardless, he is turning a few heads in the German league with his ability. Arsenal have reportedly shown interest in him in the past but nothing of real note as yet. He might not be a ready-made replacement for Ozil and might even anger many an Arsenal fan as time and time again they have replaced star players with youngsters with ‘potential’ and not really seen that potential materialize .
This does seem like a very unlikely move for both parties but if one thinks about it, this is a move that could make sense. James is a player with undoubted quality. Although, he has not been shown love by fans at Real Madrid and his loan move to Bayern has not kicked off ideally. The fact still remains that he is one of the best number 10s out there. With the prospect of the Premier League attractive for any player, its not inconceivable to see this happen in the future.
These are just 3 names of many that Arsenal could pick from. They could even choose to have Jack Wilshere assume the role of Mesut Ozil. This would definitely anger fans as it won’t be a new signing and also compounded by the fact that Wilshere is extremely Injury prone. Replacing Ozil will not be easy but there still is a chance that Arsenal may not have to do that all together.
Featured Image via Independent
Ozil’s first touch image via BBC
Draxler Image via ESPNfc
Leon Goretzka Image via skysports
James Rodriguez Image via Youtube