The impasse between Arsenal football club and Mesut Ozil will surely be viewed historically as one of the most unnecessary, protracted, and torturous divorces in the game. The midfielder has on occasion divided opinion within the fan base and some sections of the press because of his seemingly languid style of play.
However, it would be easy to forget the good times, yes there were some, contrary to popular belief, back when Mesut Ozil played side by side with Sanchez, Cazorla, Wilshere, and Ramsey and it’s perhaps no surprise that the style and swagger of Arsenal as a team diminished as each one moved on.
It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. The situation with Mesut Ozil isn’t exactly straight forward because although the player hasn’t helped his cause in many ways, his employer could have and should have dealt with the situation clearly and concisely, instead of playing a misguided game of public relations.
The worst part about all of this was that Ozil was reduced to the role of the most expensive footballer to never kick a ball in the final 18 months of his dwindling Arsenal career. Although some will disagree, the final decision in this sporting soap opera didn’t originate from Arteta, the manager was informed that the German should be excluded from his plans by those above him.
So where did it all go wrong? The process of finding and exposing scapegoats is a relatively easy one and the majority of the blame for this fiasco falls firmly at the hands of those in charge of the club. Who are we pointing the accusing finger at?
Wenger, Gazidis, Sanllehi, Emery, Arteta, and Kroenke, because all played their part and contributed to this embarrassing mess to differing degrees. Arteta’s only role was to relay the messages from the club to the press but as for the others, the percentages are substantially higher.
Ozil became the highest-paid player when Sanchez announced his departure but he shouldn’t be critiqued for that, he never transferred the cash from Arsenal’s account nor was he responsible for the lucrative contract extension. The fact is that someone allowed the contracts of Sanchez and Ozil rundown and that gave the players the advantage over the club, perhaps the club were working on an outdated theory based on loyalty.
If that was the case, they had ignored the previous exits of Van Persie, Cole, Nasri, and a whole host of others that decided to cut and run on the club with either full or expiring contracts. Ramsey was another allowed to go on free and the fact that he is still able to use his talents at the highest level shows another error of judgement on the club’s behalf.
Then there was the untimely dismissal of Cazorla who had another season left in the tank playing his particular brand of exhilarating football. It’s a catalogue of mistakes and it has cost the club dearly, not just financially. Of course, no one is going to accept responsibility for this disaster and it’s rather convenient that all those involved apart from Kroenke are no longer there.
The fact remains that Ozil was resigned in a desperate panic after it became clear that Sanchez wanted to leave, they couldn’t lose both and on Wenger’s advice, they met the demands. The trouble was that the Frenchman needed Ozil to keep and was willing for the club to foot the bill and while we are on the subject, Wenger also permitted his star players to adopt favourable regimes in training, exempt themselves from games, and created an elite culture whilst desperately holding on to his position.
I will always be grateful for what the boss gave us during his 22-year reign but his desire to rekindle the glory days seemed to hinder his thinking and created an unintentional divide in the dressing room. This was Arsenal’s thought, the foggy thinking of the individuals in charge of a club but out to serve and preserve their own best interests, which could be said of Gazidis, Sanllehi, and Mislintat.
Then there was the role of Ozil himself who’s arrogance tended to bring him into a confrontation with the club. From the dressing room rift in the Europa League final in Baku where he challenged Emery on his tactics and undermined his authority.
Then there were comments Mesut Ozil made on Instagram where he condemned China’s persecution of the Uyghur population in the north-western region of Xinjiang and publicly criticised Muslims for not highlighting the issue which eventually resulted in a boycott of Arsenal and a subsequent loss of revenue. He also began a long battle with the club by trying to exert pressure on his employers and manager to play him via his social media posts with one claiming he was ‘ready’.
The final straw was when he offered to pay the wages of Gunnersaurus, Jerry Quy on the day that Arsenal announced the signing of Thomas Partey which virtually sealed his fate. The Kroenke’s were said to be livid with the move and from then in, Ozil’s talent was irrelevant, he was destined to remain benched and ignored for his remaining time which is a travesty.
We will never know what Mesut Ozil could have given Arsenal in the transitional period or if he could have made the difference during a difficult spell. His legacy at Arsenal is either damaged or incomplete depending on your point of view, however, it’s the fans who have had to sit through this whole drama and they are the real losers.
I’ve written about Ozil a great many times over the last two years and have probably gone through every conceivable emotion. From excusing his inconsistencies and style of play to the other extreme of becoming outraged by his position, lack of appearances, phenomenal wages, and wasted talent.
Now, I just feel sad and exhausted, but before we say goodbye to him, let’s just take one last look at the player he was in an Arsenal shirt and perhaps, ponder what he could have been.
Die besten Wünsche für Ihr neues Abenteuer.