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Mesut Özil: a career in the Arsenal of two halves
The second half
In our days of plague (or at least pandemic), it can be easy to forget what life was like in early 2020, let alone early 2018, when Arsenal faced the possible loss of their two best players, Mesut. Özil. and Alexis Sánchez, who were nearing the end of their contracts at exactly the same time. Perhaps it was the fact that Wenger knew that Sánchez was going to join Manchester United, the same club that had signed Robin van Persie six years earlier and to the same utterly demoralizing effect on Arsenal fans, that made him desperate to retain. to Özil. In fact, he was so desperate that he offered Özil a contract that for years to come can be considered the most ridiculous contract ever offered to a player, let alone an Arsenal player.
The main figure, of course, was the £ 350,000 a week that Özil would earn under the terms of the new contract, which seemed high at the time and now seems absolutely baffling. Yet in desperation not to lose his two best players simultaneously, Wenger sanctioned an offer that even he must have come to regret. In six months, he had left Arsenal after failing to qualify for the Champions League for the second consecutive season. And almost as soon as he left, Ozil’s second contract, which the German had happily signed (and no one can blame him for that), came to be regarded as Wenger’s latest and worst act of madness in the Emirates.
The same failure under three different managers
In our increasingly data-driven days, there are many statistics that could be brought to light to show the decline in Özil’s performance during the second half of his career at Arsenal compared to that of the first half. Certainly the goals (which were never plentiful) and assists (which were reasonably plentiful, at least during his first seasons in the Emirates) dried up. But perhaps the most damning statistic is that Özil failed to convince three successive coaches at Arsenal – Unai Emery, Freddie Ljungberg (who was undoubtedly only a temporary manager) and, most of all, Mikel Arteta, that he deserved a permanent spot. in the team. Özil was in and out of the team under Emery, Ljungberg barely picked him during his short time in charge and finally, after trying to re-motivate him when he took over the club for the first time, Arteta finally decided there was no place for Özil. in his vision to rebuild the Arsenal.
Initially, that decision by Arteta was fully vindicated, as it led Arsenal to another FA Cup victory (the club’s record 14 in total) within six months of taking over the club. Since then, however, and particularly this season in the Premier League, Arteta’s understandable emphasis on restoring the team’s defensive security has led to a contraction in his attacking ability. In short, Arsenal in recent games, especially at home, have seemed like a team that cries out for the creativity of Mesut Özil. Still, the fact that there has been little to no outcry from Arsenal fans on social media or elsewhere for Özil’s return says it all.
And the same goes for Germany
The same can be said for Germany, Özil’s “old” international team. This week, you could say that Die Mannschaft completed its long, slow slide down from the glory of Brazil 2014 when they lost 6-0 to Spain in a Nations League match. However, as in North London, in Germany there are very few fans or commentators calling for Özil to return to the side, even if he was willing to reconsider his retirement from the national team after Germany failed to qualify from the stage. of groups of 2018. World Cup in Russia and its subsequent confrontation with the management and the fans of the team.
In fact, Özil has burned his bridges both at the club level and internationally. Neither Mikel Arteta nor Joachim Löw seem willing to even attempt a reconciliation with him. Thus, the player who a decade ago showed that he was destined for success both at club level and internationally, which he later achieved with Real Madrid, Arsenal and Germany, now seems to be heading to a relative backwater in the world game, like Turkey ( where your family comes from) or China. It’s a soccer tragedy for a player whose gifts have never really been questioned. It is only his attitude and professionalism since effectively winning the lottery by signing a second contract with Arsenal that both have been highly questionable.
Surely the end is near Mesut Özil
Ultimately, therefore, Mesut Özil seems ready to leave Arsenal in the near future, whether in January (in the unlikely event that any club is willing to pay Arsenal a transfer fee) or more likely in the summer, when you can go to free. It will leave truly found memories among Arsenal fans. Some will remember the occasional flashes of brilliance that lit up the first half of his career with the club, which no doubt helped the Gunners become a trophy-winning team again. But many more are likely to remember the lousy second half of his Arsenal career when one of the most talented players on the planet appeared to knock down tools and ended up destroying his once golden reputation.