“I am confident [he will sign a new deal], yes. But what does that mean? I don’t know.”
Arsène’s trawlers and seagulls moment after Saturday’s win over Newcastle. Asked about Mesut Özil’s contract situation, he tried to clarify matters but just ended up leaving everyone bewildered and definitely none the wiser.
Looking back over ‘Mexit’, there’s a pattern to the way the narrative unfolds in the media. An interview about talks happening in London after the summer tour ended quashed speculation he was leaving. A month later in mid-September, the United speculation gathered pace; Mesut ‘invited’ fans to his house in a virtual tour.
Every time the press push him to another club, a story of hope that he will stay emerges in the back pages.
Like the EU, Team Mesut know they have Arsenal over a barrel and can use the club any which way they want. The money on offer is almost irrelevant now; we’ve gone through a level where it is meaningful. One year of playing at £250k per week or more is enough to set him up for life. The only meaning it has is in negotiations with other clubs.
But the brand, one which reportedly decorates the side of his house, is all. Protecting his carefully crafted image is second only to the football side of things. And I don’t dispute that primarily, Özil is concerned with football. You can be in love with London all you want but if we’re in a downward spiral, a player of his level ought not to be interested in playing for Arsenal.
If he is in that scenario – of a 7th place or lower finish with no comfort found by a cup win – then it’s only ever been about the money. And I don’t think it is.
50 Shades of Wenger
I don’t think Mesut is staying, that’s for sure and at some point, the news will ‘out’. I think they – Team Mesut – have seen the backlash against Alexis and don’t want their client to suffer the same. That began when Arsène criticised the Chilean last season and continues now with every criticism through to ‘Alexis Tax’.
Sanchez mentally left Arsenal last summer. The dip in his form this season underlines that. It’s been a hugely disappointing season for him, both for club and country. While City conquer all, we fumble around in the minor placings. While others celebrated qualifying for Russia 2018, he suffered as Chile crashed out. Arsenal are not seeing the best of a player who sparkled for a couple of years.
However, ‘Sexit’ means he’s fair game. He isn’t perfect, that’s for sure and the loss of possession irritates but he is still our key creative player when it comes to goals. Mesut Özil doesn’t score his fabulous volley if Alexis doesn’t follow up his shot and challenge for the ball. Our goals in the last week have his fingerprints all over them
Football supporters are like that and it’s not a new phenomenon. Michael Thomas, 1989’s hero, was greeted with a chorus of “Judas” when we went to Anfield a month after he’d left to join Liverpool. Frank Stapleton can tell you similar tales.
Never leave a club for your bitterest rivals; Mesut will find that out the hard way if he moves to Old Trafford in the summer.
I wonder how Charlie George would be remembered had he joined Tottenham as was planned in 1975? As it is, joining Derby at the time Tottenham had called a press conference to announce his signing adds to the folklore surrounding him.
Talk About The Past
Reports last week claimed Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck rejected the opportunity of contract renewal talks. Jack Wilshere bounced Arsenal into talks next month. We’re in a mess. The apathy in the stands John Cross talks about permeates every level of the club.
We used to laugh at Manchester United when Ferguson left them with an ageing squad. Compared to the state Arsène is leaving us in, it’s a masterclass in football management. I’d take United’s situation as champions with an old squad over ours as also-rans crammed with under-performers, every day of the week.
Will we make a better choice than David Moyes as successor? Stan has no history to back that claim up but that’s no reason not to make the change in 2019.
The malaise runs deeper than one transfer window can resolve. We could go mad this January but it’s not our style. If Alexis leaves next month – and I think that in spite of Arsène’s words, it might be best for all concerned – we have to act. Quickly; not wait until the end of the window on the hope that someone in the squad will raise their game for six months.
It’s a tough sell next summer for Arsenal. Europa League qualifiers two years running highlights a drop in status without the wherewithal to correct the fall. There’s no point in worrying about the messages losing Sanchez and Özil will send; that damage has already been done by the farcical events of the last deadline day and this season.
And last; don’t underestimate the damage wrought by Arsène’s indecision. Has he learned or the board learned the lessons of that farrago? Are stuck in a Groundhog Day, doomed to repeat the same mistakes without respite?
Time will tell but even with six months of the season remaining, time isn’t on our side.
Win a Free Arsenal Print from Art of Football
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