The fallout from Mesut Özil’s retirement statement began yesterday with the response depending on political hue or personal beliefs.
Uli Hoeness waded in like any good chairman would and deflected attention away from the sub-par performances of his Bayern Munich. That was the theory. What really happened was his personal feelings about Özil surfaced and they weren’t very pleasant. Prejudiced, one might say.
Anyway, politicians waded in. Someone commented that because Özil is a multi-millionaire living in London, his views on integration didn’t count, which completely missed the point. The DFB said it wasn’t their fault and in any case, they do lots of good work in lily-livered copout that any FA around the world will admire. No-one else does…
As the storm swirled, Mesut Özil smiled dutifully for the cameras and basked in the support of his team-mates. And the Arsenal fanbase, by and large. However, those who conveniently packaged all critics of Özil’s Arsenal performances as racist overplayed their hand. Not all critics are racist; some people expect more from a player earning £300k per week.
And you will see more from him this season, if only because he doesn’t know where the land lies with Unai Emery. Arsène indulged him because that was Arsène’s style; he indulged everyone in his paternalistic approach. Until they let him down and then he cut them adrift. Unless it was a favourite of his and then they got injured. A lot.
But this is new Arsenal and slates are wiped clean. The mistakes of the past are about to be undone, with a new, vibrant style on the pitch. We’re 24-48 hours from seeing that. By the end of the pre-season, we will see the ideas in their full majesty. Or whatever the opposite is if the players can’t grasp them.
Usmanov Shares For Sale
While all this is going on, the Financial Times reports Alisher Usmanov is prepared to sell his shares in the club. Previously, it was anyone but Kroenke. The reality as “a person close to Mr Usmanov” claims it’s a “difficult sale” without a seat on the board or any influence whatsoever at the club.
Usmanov’s mantra is that he is a ‘man of the people’ or a ‘man of small shareholders’. It’s self-proclaimed, of course. He tried unsuccessfully to buy Kroenke out and reject Kroenke’s £525m offer last year. Now, KSE are the only buyers unless they are persuaded by someone to sell their shares.
Which is a worrying time for the club. If KSE buys the club, transparency becomes a thing of the past. The plurality of ownership that is a fresh memory also becomes a distant memory.
The report suggests there is an “impasse in the boardroom” which is far from the truth; the removal of Wenger unlocked the power within the club for Ivan, and I suspect, Junior.
Rumours abounded previously about a Nigerian magnate being interested – his name escapes me – but from memory, he disappeared from the scene due to pressing business investment needs in his (concrete? sugar?) plant. Anyway, perhaps his interest will reignite with Usmanov’s shares coming up for sale?
However, without Kroenke’s shares, is there a point to buying Usmanov’s shares? The FT article is more a plant to flush out any interest without making contact directly.
Whether anyone is prepared to play the waiting game is the question. Usmanov has been around the scene for the best part of a decade and progressed not one jot bar the acquisition of Farhad Moshiri’s shares. For a man used to getting what he wants, that must be hellishly frustrating.
Who’s That Heading Out The Opening Door?
On the transfer front, Danny Welbeck is available for £15m and plucked out of thin air, Leicester City are suitors. Or ought to be, so the story goes.
It can only be a matter of time before Lazio come knocking for him. They’ve looked at – and seemingly passed up on – Joel Campbell. Now, they are looking at a £6m bid for Lucas Perez. Welbz at £10m is probably better value given his history although money may be an issue.
Alex Iwobi meanwhile, is set for a new contract which will take him to 2022. Which will make as many happy as it will upset. There’s a theme. A lot of players are suffering the hangover of being associated with the previous regime. Until the new season begins and things are going well, it will remain that.