In some latest Mezut Ozil transfer rumours the German has been linked with a shock switch to Manchester United. Reportedly a move is being lined up for the summer which is when the German will be a free agent. It’s fairly common knowledge that his Arsenal contract expires next summer and that he’s refused to sign an extension. It looks like he could be off, is Manchester going to be the location?
We look at what the future could hold for Ozil…
Nationality: 86 caps 22 goals
Position: central attacking midfielder, can play on the left or right
Transfer Fee: Free
2016/17 League Stats: 32 starts (1 sub appearance) 8 goals (9 assists)
The situation at Arsenal with player’s contracts has been covered, well, pretty much everywhere, so I don’t want to dwell on it too much again. Like Sanchez, Ozil’s contract is now into its last year. A combination of incompetence at the top with handling of contracts and Ozil’s reluctance to sign a new deal has brought us to this point.
I’ve seen comments that Ozil has refused to sign a new contract at Arsenal because they haven’t met his wage demands. I’m not so sure by this. If his demands are around the £250k mark as I’ve seen mentioned a few times, I don’t see the logic in Arsenal not just offering such a contract. In this day and age it’s not out of the ordinary for players of his standard and importance to the team, to be earning similar amounts at the top clubs.
The alternative is for Arsenal to lose a player worth what £50-£70mil, possibly more, for nothing in the summer. That makes no financial sense.
So if it’s in Arsenal’s hands they really shouldn’t be hesitating. However I have my doubts it is in Arsenal’s hands, at least any longer, as surely we wouldn’t find ourselves in this situation.
You don’t have to be a genius to understand why quite a few of Arsenal’s main players seem disillusioned with life at the Emirates these days. Arsenal haven’t mounted a serious title challenge in the best part of 10 years and the Champions League hasn’t been much better. This is the crux of their problems.
Personally I’m surprised Ozil’s contract situation hasn’t featured more highly in the football news world. Sanchez has helped distract attention. The Chilean’s greater effort in a engineering a move with accompanying transfer developments has helped keep Ozil’s situation under the radar to some extent.
The fact there hasn’t been the same serious transfer developments with Ozil though does suggest the German hasn’t been actively trying to engineer a move. That may give Arsenal fans some hope. Possibly he and his advisors have been going about their business in a quieter way. Possibly they are biding their time until the summer, comfortable in assessing their options when his contract has expired, knowing they hold all the cards.
A small part of me does think Arsenal could still have a chance to rescue a deal for Ozil though. It’s currently looking unlikely that Ozil will stay or that Arsenal’s season is going to be much different compared to the previous 10. However if they could pull off the unthinkable and have a successful League season that just might be enough to persuade Ozil to prolong his stay.
Ozil is clearly a divisive character, even amongst Arsenal fans. His demeanour on the football pitch doesn’t help, nor his perceived lack of effort, especially when the going gets tough. It could be argued though that he’s never offered much defensively and without the ball so it’s pointless expecting different. Fans are entitled to feel aggrieved about him going missing in the big games as often as has however.
For me, there’s only a few scenarios in which you can get away with a player like Ozil in your team. A great team maybe able to carry players at certain times. A strong tactical system in which everyone else supports each other and the ‘luxury’ player, especially out of possession, might achieve it. A team of hard-working and physically fit individuals, who can possibly compensate for one player not putting in the same kind of shift is another option.
Arsenal are none of the above though and that is why, possibly they’ve not met expectations as a team for so long and not just explain why Ozil alone has flattered to deceive.
Individually Arsenal aren’t as good as Wenger still seems to think yet he stubbornly continues to try and out-play better or smarter teams and managers. Arsenal really need to go back to basics. A more balanced approach, using players more likely to put in a shift would be a good starting point.
Against Chelsea we saw a glimpse of this recently and for Arsenal’s sake they need to continue with this more sensible approach. They were much less expansive, meaning in turn they were much less open defensively. There seemed to be more onus on a team effort as opposed to individual quality which is a good thing.
There’s been plenty of false hope for Arsenal in the past but maybe Wenger’s finally starting to realise… and oh yeah who was also missing from that game? Mesut Ozil.
There’s no doubt he’s a quality player. He’s a world cup winner and starter for the best national team in the world and has been for years. His productivity in terms of goals and assists is only bettered by Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal. However you can understand the criticisms of him when playing for Arsenal.
It may not be a completely bad thing for Arsenal to lose him so they can refocus on the collective rather than continually try (and fail) in accommodating a player like Ozil into their far from ideal set-up.
In terms of Man Utd and Mourinho, he’s a know fan of Ozil’s. They worked together to famous effect in 2011/12 when Real Madrid won La Liga and Ozil topped the assist charts with 19. That was within a team which included Ronaldo who scored nearly 50 in the league, Higuain and Benzema scored over 20 each whilst Di Maria, Kaka and Xabi Alonso all racked up hugely impressive assist numbers too.
It was an outstanding Real Madrid team that beat arguably one of the greatest teams of all time in Pep’s Barcelona to the title. Man Utd are clearly nowhere near that level though.
Man Utd are defensively more solid than Arsenal and have a stronger spine but I’m still not sure whether Ozil has the profile Mourinho is looking for right now. A lot of managers look at what their attacking players can do going forward first. Mourinho however looks at the overall picture and what they do without the ball first. High levels of work-rate is a feature of his teams.
You can see how much Mata, Rashford, Martial and even Mkhitaryan are expected to do to help out defensively. Ozil would be a move away from this and not necessarily a good one. Utd are still very much a work in progress.
Mkhitaryan looks like he’s finally settling in and is too good to be sat on the bench. Mata is a top player albeit a level or two away from world class in my opinion due to consistency (not helped by frequently changing position granted.) Even Herrera, Pogba, Lingard or Rashford can play in the number 10 position if needed so it’s not like it’s an area Utd need to strengthen at all.
Ozil could threaten the balance of the team. Pogba may not be afforded as much opportunity to get forward if those ahead of him aren’t going to potentially cover. Whilst someone else will be on the bench or not even making the squad getting unhappy, unless they’re sold… but who?
An opportunity to sign a player like Ozil doesn’t come around very often so that might be enough to persuade Utd to make a move but I’m not sure if they did move it would be done for the right reasons. It would also be a move away from what now looks like a successful transfer approach this summer. In which key areas of the team which needed strengthening were highlighted and players were identified and signed with that basis in mind.
I’m not sure the trade-off between the extra goals and particularly assists, which Ozil brings to the table is worth the lack of general contribution in comparison to who is already at the club.
This is a difficult one to predict. As I said, I wouldn’t completely rule out Ozil staying at Arsenal but it looks a remote chance. I’m not sure reports that Ozil wants to stay in England are necessarily accurate either. I’m sure he’d find a number of clubs abroad attractive too.
At the moment it’s been surprising how few stories there have been linking Ozil with various teams. There might have been the odd mention of Barcelona in the past but this Utd rumour seems the strongest for sometime. We can expect that to change however as the season progresses. I’m sure plenty of other teams will get linked in that time.
I didn’t create this website to sit on the fence but in all honesty, it’s far too early to tell. I don’t mind getting it wrong as long as there’s some decent logic to my decision but here I’d just be guessing.. sorry.
From a commercial and boardroom angle I can definitely see Utd moving for Ozil if the opportunity arose. Mourinho would probably not be against it either, knowing his quality. Utd would need to further strengthen their team however I feel, particularly defensively for such a move to work out. Ozil threatens to disrupt the entire balance and harmony of the team but that could be said wherever he goes…
Where do you think Ozil will go? How good is he? Leave your comments below.