This season has finished with the ultimate cliff hanger, like a scene from a traditional western with its obligatory gunfight in the streets of a dusty old town. The two gunslingers emerge and the towns inhabitance furiously scamper for cover. Usually in the nearby saloon that never closes under any circumstances. Although even after the season has ended, one name has been in the news as it always has, Mesut Ozil.
'Arsenal would like to move on from Ozil and the £34million that his £350,000-a-week wages will cost them over the next two seasons. Take the German's salary off the Gunners' books and the money available for transfers would near enough double.'[@jamesbenge]
— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) June 4, 2019
At one end, the Sheriff, Unai Emery or ‘the undertaker’ as they refer to him, on a mission to clear up the town or in this case the club. At the other end, Mesut ‘lazybones’ Ozil, a man who would a harbour a grudge if it took less effort.
The much publicised problems have been present all season, a season in which Ozil has rarely played and when he has, has rarely performed. It’s said that the Spaniard wanted more commitment and more intensity from the languid looking German and when it wasn’t forthcoming, he was benched.
On other occasions Ozil was apparently absent due to an injury of unknown origin in a non specific area or he was infected with a virus or cold. It’s all been a bit of a hash, poorly managed in the public eye and lamely covered up by a series of watery excuses. It’s something we normally associate with Chelsea, a club that likes to oust players via text messages.
It was said that Emery and Ozil had words last year but that was denied in the same way a man with a carving knife standing over a blood soaked dead body claims he didn’t do it.
The differences were patched up temporarily but it was fairly obvious that old wounds would open again under the right circumstances. The fundamental problem is that Emery is saddled with a player that doesn’t fit his style of play, on a wage he didn’t agree, in a role he doesn’t need.
He is not a fan of highly paid superstar since his time at PSG, where he suggested that Neymar called the shots and since then, he has been less inclined to suffer in silence. He said rather dryly after his departure,
“I know when I am the principal person in the group and when I am not. At PSG, the leader is Neymar. At Manchester City, it’s Pep Guardiola.
“My priority was to make Neymar happy, it didn’t matter how. Neymar arrived at PSG in order to be the leader, to live the necessary process to become number one in the world. At Man City, Pep is the leader.”
Fair enough but Ozil isn’t Neymar. However, the German’s nonchalant nature, lethargy and perceived lack of passion, has infuriated Emery who demands a shift when he picks a player.
Mesut Ozil allegedly said this to Unai Emery ? pic.twitter.com/FwtUcs8jd3
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) June 4, 2019
Ozil, on the other hand, considers himself, rightly or wrongly, to be the jewel in the crown, the chief creator and the main talent in the Arsenal side but has shown little of evidence of that this campaign.
Rumours have persisted that words have been exchanged and that Ozil even told his agent that a move was out of the question but after the diabolical display in the Europa league final against Chelsea, he may not have the choice. It’s alleged that Ozil trudged off, embarrassed by Emery’s decision to replace him with teenager Joe Willock and as he neared the Spaniard, he informed him “ you are not a coach !”
If true, that may have been the moment when Emery reached quickly and expertly to his hip, plucked his revolver from it’s holster and fired three decisive shots into the midfielders lackadaisical body. Former gunner, Cesc Fàbregas observed after the capitulation to Chelsea,
“I think sometimes you just have it inside or you don’t have it. When he was at Real Madrid he was surrounded by top top players and one of the best players in the history of the sport in Cristiano Ronaldo. I’m not taking anything away from Mesut, he played top football there.
But once you step down a little bit, because we can all agree Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich they are top three, you have to show yourself a little bit more because you don’t have the same quality around you.’’
The atmosphere between Ozil and the coach hasn’t exactly been one of mutual admiration or unconditional support. It’s been more akin to the hero and a protagonist of an ongoing football melodrama which is reaching its final phase.
It’s also said that behind the scenes, moves are being made to offload Ozil on loan with Arsenal paying the bulk of his wage. The only problem with that is the players ego, Ozil will have been significantly embarrassed by this saga and his stock will have plummeted. So who’s going to take him ?
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He will also feel that he has four or five good seasons left at the highest level and is in no rush to play for someone like Fenerbahçe. The trouble is that Ozil is now officially on the unwanted list and Emery has seen enough of ‘nothing’to know he doesn’t want it.
87 per cent of Sky Sports Digital readers call for Ozil to leave the Emirates this summer with over 3 million votes already cast…
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) June 1, 2019
In terms of Ozil staying until his contract ends, I’d only wager that there’s only a 35% chance of that happening and if Emery can’t farm him out, he may just twist the knife by limiting his appearances until he hands in a transfer request.
It’s been unpleasant, it’s been unprofessional at times but Arsenal need a change in the midfield before the new season kicks off.