Oh Özil, thanks for hitting us with such a quandary

After a rollercoaster ride of “will they, won’t they?” over the last few months regarding new contract deals for Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, reports are now saying that Özil would like to stay at Arsenal – but only if Arsene Wenger does as well.

And one would imagine that the Chilean ace is of the same mindset as the German creator. Now that poses a problem. Do we want to see Arsène depart along with our two best players, or should they all stay and continue as a happy-ish family?

For a while now Gunners fans have been divided over Arsene. Some want the father of our modern era out after failing to pick up serious silverware for over ten years. Others believe that he is still the best man for the job and have faith that his philosophy will yield results again. Either way, his contract is up for renewal in the summer, and his future at the Emirates is still unclear.

Arsenal Vs Watford (CC BY 2.0) by joshjdss

As with everything, there are of course pros and cons to keeping the Frenchman around. But in Arsene’s favour, since the financial situation at the club has improved he has made serious buys in the transfer market and nearly all of his signings have improved the squad. Given time and continued funding, the three-time Premier League winner could build one of the most attractive teams in Europe. At present, though, if the board are waiting on the outcome of the current campaign to decide on Wenger’s fate, things don’t look too bright. Bookies have almost written off our title hopes, with Betway placing the Gunners at 14/1 to lift the trophy.

Two of Wenger’s greatest additions have been the big-money acquisitions of Özil and Sanchez. But there is a strong risk of losing the two stars if they don’t pen new contract deals in the near future. Both are holding out for wages in excess of £200,000-a-week, but Özil’s recent interview n the German magazine Kicker has revealed that Arsène staying will be the deciding factor for the playmaker. The former Real Madrid midfielder hinted that playing for Wenger is more important than the wage increase. Not that anyone believed him.

Özil is target of oil money

Özil is one of the best attacking midfielders in England’s top flight and is sought after by many of our main rivals. Losing the German would be bad enough, but to another title contender would pose a significant double blow. The same can be said about Sanchez, who is a primary target of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. The Catalan took Sanchez to Barcelona and gave him the opportunity to get worldwide recognition for his skills. But it has been at the Emirates where the fantastic forward has become a real world-beater.

Özil and Sanchez are both at the prime footballing age of 28. This is the age where talented stars can turn into footballing legends. They have the maturity, skill, and expertise required to take their game to the uppermost levels. After giving them a stage upon which to shine, it should be Arsenal that reaps the rewards of their development.

But it all goes back to that old footballing viewpoint that no player is bigger than the club. There will always be other amazing players to purchase. It seems a waste to say goodbye to the pair who could be core players for many years to come. To some, the pair are two compelling reasons for keeping the longest-serving Premier League manager in his post.

29 thoughts on “Oh Özil, thanks for hitting us with such a quandary

  1. Not convinced that Ozil is specifically tying his signing of a new contract to Wenger staying. He did say that he wanted to know what is happening with Wenger’s future. I can understand that, as you would want to know what is happening with the manager who effectively runs the club. If Wenger is going Ozil wants to know who he will be working with if he signs on again. I’m not sure how the club deal with that, unless than can either privately confirm Wenger is staying, or provide details of the succession plans. Players of Ozil and Sanchez’ calibre probably should be given the nod one way or the other, but how do you ensure it’s kept quiet until the club wants to announce? The last thing we want is the ‘dead man walking’ scenario they had at City.

  2. Wavey:
    Not convinced that Ozil is specifically tying his signing of a new contract to Wenger staying. He did say that he wanted to know what is happening with Wenger’s future. I can understand that, as you would want to know what is happening with the manager who effectively runs the club. If Wenger is going Ozil wants to know who he will be working with if he signs on again. I’m not sure how the club deal with that, unless than can either privately confirm Wenger is staying, or provide details of the succession plans. Players of Ozil and Sanchez’ calibre probably should be given the nod one way or the other, but how do you ensure it’s kept quiet until the club wants to announce? The last thing we want is the ‘dead man walking’ scenario they had at City.

    You are right. At no point did Ozil suggest that his contract extension was contingent upon Wenger staying. As you rightly point out, all he said was that he wanted clarity on the manager’s position. Which is quite fair. If it’s an Ancellotti or Simeone coming, then why worry? But if it’s an Eddie Howie, then he has every reason to weigh his options.

  3. It’s entirely possible that a new manager would see the fee for Ozil could be better invested in a couple of new players of course. Not that contracts are worth a great deal if one party decides to move on. Ozil only makes sense if we play a play making #10, if for example we play with two up front in a 442, 4211, 352 etc then it would be difficult to accommodate him. Different managers prefer different systems. And putting all the best players on the pitch doesn’t always make for the best team.

    I’d see his signing as an indication that he’d received certain assurances about who would be in charge next season.

  4. andy1886,

    don’t all teams play with a play making #10? I’m confused why Ozil couldn’t work in a 4211, 422 or 352? All of those formations allow for a playmaker. Lets not act like Ozil strictly stays in midfield and doesn’t move, he is constantly on the move running beyond the striker, creating from the flanks. To be honest, a new manager would probably build a team around Ozil and Sanchez and some of the others who don’t fit would be moved. Players like Ramsey who a manager could get good money for in England and then re-invest.

    To be honest, I actually think a new manager wouldn’t look at Ozil as a bad thing.

  5. C,

    Hi C! I thought that you might pick up on that one 😉

    This is just an observation, note the proviso “if we play with two strikers”. I’m not saying that we should (and Ozil is adding more goals it seems, at least earlier this season anyway) but does anyone else really play with an out and out play making #10 in the PL?

    Looking back at the most recent PL winners we have:

    Leicester 15/16 – Played two genuine strikers from Vardy/Okazaki/Ulloa. Mahrez pulled the strings usually from a wider position and scored more frequently than Ozil. Was he more comparable with Ozil or Alexis?

    Chelsea 14/15 – Only one striker but again hard to define who was their play maker. Like Mahrez Hazard was more of a wide attacker/AM and scored more goals than we’re likely to see from Ozil. Still pissed that we sign Gervinho as the cheap option over him btw.

    ManC 13/14 – Played two strikers from a combination of Aguero/Dzeko/Negredo/Jovetic. Silva had a big impact but their main drive from MF was Toure. Again not the same set up as Ozil gives AFC.

    Also Liverpool who ran them close played two strikers in Suarez and Sturridge.

    ManU 12/13 – Our old friend RvP and one of Rooney/Hernandez/Welbeck. Little creativity and certainly no-one of Ozil’s ilk anywhere near the side.

    So I’m not saying that our approach cannot win the PL but history suggests that strikers win titles so if you only play with one genuine striker they have to be the very best (and sadly that’s not the case with us).

  6. andy1886,

    the thing is, I’m not nor have I ever really said that Ozil should be the out and out playmaker, but I would say this, all those sides had a player that was creative but also had the parts around him. Ozil is a #10 of the purest kind, but he roams, LW, RW, hell even at times you see him playing as the furthest player forward.

    The one thing that I will say about all those teams is that its not necessarily about playing with 2 strikers as much as it is having multiple pure goal scorer. You talk about that Chelsea team, but you forget that Cesc was pulling the strings in that team and it influenced Hazard and Costa. Leicester, for as brilliant as Mahrez was, Drinkwater and Kante were constantly playing balls over the top for Mahrez and Vardy and Okazaki to run onto and do their thing. that Manure side, well they just play differently, always have and always will. That Liverpool side, don’t forget that for as influential as those front 3 of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling were, Coutinho was equally as influential and just as much of a driving force.

    The point ultimately comes down to having Ozil but having players to help finish off the chances he creates and the space he creates for them to do their thing. With Theo and Sanchez, we had those goal scorers to finish off and play with Ozil; Giroud is a different player who doesn’t do movement but has purple patches were he can provide that extra goal scorer. Its why I think a front 4 Sanchez, Perez, Theo and Ozil would be really good for us and it we were to enhance that by adding another goal scoring winger or CF that actually moved we would be even better.

    It Welbeck was to ever figure out how to score goals more regularly he would be really good in rotation with Theo, PErez, and Sanchez; unfortunately up to this point injuries and not always having a calm head has held him back.

  7. C,

    Unfortunately the combination of a pure out and out #10 (back in the day #10 was the more mobile striker in a front pair just as an aside) and good but not great forwards is not a winning combination.

    I’m not sure that more goal scorers per se is the answer, it’s having better ones. The key thing is that one of our forwards will usually be on the end of it regardless of if we have another of similar ilk in the side, and the think that really matters is will they put the ball in the net as often or more often than the strikers of the other big teams?

    If our strikers score 50% of their chances and Chelsea’s or City’s score 60% or 70% of theirs we’ve got no chance. Isn’t it crazy that when Ozil had such a great season creating chances that none of our strikers/attacking forwards (call them what you will) got nowhere near the top of the scoring charts? Imagine Aguero on the end of Ozil’s through balls. Usually title winning sides have a striker at least in the top three regardless of how many other players might score.

    It isn’t going to happen but I’d be interested to see OG and Alexis as a front pair (not striker and wide attacker). I think that both would help the other be a better striker. Could Ozil play behind them? Possibly, but it would require a major tactical rethink and much more discipline from our CM’s than we’ve seen since we left Highbury.

  8. andy1886,

    I agree, I think we need a better finishing forward to be honest irregardless of who is playing as a#10. Here is the other thing for me, we simply don’t have the consistent goal scorers that are required to win the PL. For instance, last season when Giroud couldn’t hit the Pacific Ocean standing right in front of it, we didn’t have anybody else even though Ozil was still creating; that’s the problem.

    Your right, if they score more coupled with defending they win; but the thing that is most telling is that for all the talk of Giroud being our CF, since his arrival, there have been 3 times( if memory serves) where he hasn’t been our leading goal scorer (Theo, Sanchez and then this season plus Ramsey gave him a good run at it). I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Giroud because I’m not, I think he is a good to really good (when he is having his 10-14 match purple patch) but when you look at the clubs we are competing against since his arrival, how many of their strikers would you take over him: Aguero, Kane, Costa, Lukuka, Ibra and before him Rooney, Sturridge, Suarez?

    I get what your saying and I actually think that we could but our current midfield is so limited with just Xhaka and Ramsey that it could never happen. The other thing is, for all the talk of Sanchez centrally in midfield, for me, he loses the ball too often or tries to do it himself too often for the #10 type position. Its why I really like him at CF because its Sanchez against CB’s, I’ll take my chances with Sanchez at CF everytime. I will defend this notion that Ozil is somehow some sort of “problem” because of where he plays but I think more than anything we lack or atleast Arsene doesn’t like to play a team that has the required goal scorers.

    I could legitimately make an argument that Giroud at CF actually hurts Sanchez a bit because he is so stagnate and Sanchez is constantly on the move and while he has been quality on the LW, he is much more effective at CF with Ozil playing behind him. Personally, I really want to see how a line-up (see below) would play given that it would allow us to not only defend but also attack and has goals in it and it has nothing to do with pace or movement just an understanding of how players like to play:

    ———–Xhaka——Elneny or Le Coq

    then allowing Giroud to be our Dzeko, or super sub.

  9. After a few days discussions regarding key parties extending their contracts (bearing in mind the situation is wider with many ‘lesser’ individuals involved) it strikes me how much of a distraction, a drain on focus this must be.

    Of course, we are invested fans who love to discuss the details…but I can’t imagine this is so different to players across the squad, the coaching and backroom staff.

    I hardly follow the inner workings of every PL club, but I’m not aware any other team is currently going through machinations on this level (certainly in such a public manner). We sort of accept this as par for the course because we’ve been conditioned to this…one year it’s Wenger another it’s Walcott, then it’s Ozil, Sanchez and Wenger again with a background supporting cast for good measure…ad nauseam.

    Inevitably every club will have the odd contract negotiation which plays out publicly -but any future effort to lessen the circus which seems constant at Arsenal would be an improvement.

  10. -DFS,

    I agree. How often do we hear about players at other clubs stalling over contract extensions? Apart from Rooney pondering a move when his contract discussions were going slowly and Gerrard deciding not to leave Liverpool when he received threats. It seems that we are the only team to let contract discussions drag on and then be played out in the press.

  11. Wavey –

    Precisely – no club is immune, but after several days debate here I simply reflected this is another soap opera allowed to fester on an annual basis for no (truly) explicable reason.

  12. Good read from an interesting site model –

    Welcome to The Players’ Tribune, a new media platform that presents the voices of professional athletes, bringing fans closer to the games they love than ever before. Founded by Derek Jeter, The Players’ Tribune aims to provide unique insight into the daily sports conversation and publishes first-person stories directly from athletes. From video to podcasts to player polls and written pieces, The Tribune strives to be “The Voice of the Game.”

    Ronaldinho’s letter to his eight year old self


  13. andy1886,

    I agree and I wonder if our best team against the top 5 is actually Ozil on LW like Germany do.

    That enables more industrious CMs. If we had any left! Well X and Rambo anyway.

  14. Giroud extends his deal, along with Kozzer and Le Coq.

    I’m glad about the latter two, the former though I believe means there will be no striker activity this calendar year 🙁

  15. C,

    Yeah, as I went away and mulled things over, I do think this adds a bit more weight to the Arsene Stay’s argument. Although I was pretty sure he would before this happened anyway

  16. Damon,

    Yup, no offense to Giroud but to extend a cF that never scored 20 PL goals in a season and will be 31 at the start of next season; just kind of smells like Arsene staying.

    The bigger question is how does this affect things with Sanchez and Ozil because both have routinely during matches berated and seemed overly frustrated with Giroud and surely will wany investment like many of the fans.

  17. Yeah, on one level I am thrilled the three have extended but the vagaries of ‘long term contract’ for all three sounds a little odd.

    I am sure there will be some clarification soon but Giroud on a long term extension?

    I think it does confirm the obvious however (as we have all suspected) any idea of a new manager seems increasingly implausible.

    Lets hope this brings a lift to the team.

  18. C- actually I am for bringing Szczesny back at this point.

    Everyone can now see Cech is in slow decline, I like Ospina but have never been entirely convinced.

    Szczesny seems like the best alternative…we then need to really look for a younger keeper for the future, phase Cech out and possibly allow Ospina to move on.

  19. -DFS,

    Yup, think bringing back Szczesny next season makes perfect sense and selling Ospina. Allowing Cech to become our Cup GK, Szczesny are #1 and seeing what we have in our GK3 Martinez.

    Szczesny will be 27 years old which is essentially the start of the prime years for GK’s.

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