Your club just spent £50m+ and the best the media can do is promote the notion you’re going to lose your star player next summer. Chelsea fans, welcome to our world.
Not that I care. Indeed, I’d welcome Hazard leaving because Pulisic is definitely a downgrade at the moment. He may not be in the future but right now, he is.
Which segues nicely into our star player, Mesut Özil. He is the star if you define it by pay packet. Of course, if it’s down to performances, he isn’t but that’s splitting hairs. Define it how you want but for this piece, it’s a segue.
His agent issued a definitive statement which said Mesut is going nowhere. 150 words to say “You’ve got Özil, Mesut Özil, now get over it”:
I would prefer not to speak publicly about Mesut’s situation, but given the recent speculation linking him with a move away from Arsenal, I do feel it is important to provide some clarity so we can end this and focus on football.
Mesut signed a new contract last January because he saw his future at Arsenal and nothing has changed in his mind. He want to stay for the duration of that contract and maybe even longer.
Mesut is 100 per cent committed to Arsenal Football Club. He loves the club, shares its values and does not want to be anywhere else.
[Mesut] is proud to wear the shirt and honoured to represent Arsenal on and off the pitch. He takes his responsibilities – including being selected as one of the captains this season – very seriously, and has a great relationship with his team-mates, the staff and fans.
Of course his future is at Arsenal. At £350k per week, I’d be content to see out my contract.
The last paragraph opens him up to some questions. Ridicule, as well, given his, ahem, injury record. In the past decade, it’s been the club on the receiving end when a player decided to leave – Flamini, Fabregas, etc. – occasionally with the likes of Almunia, the other way around.
The situation resonates with those of us old enough to remember how George Graham eased Charlie Nicholas out of the club. Are Arsenal doing the same with Mesut Özil? Certainly, the talk of a loan spell somewhere was too quickly and unnecessarily rebuffed.
There are few constants in modern football beyond bad refereeing and media speculation. Denials only serve to fuel the latter, no matter the truth or otherwise. And in a transfer window, speculation is the food of life. Few people take notice of media chatter except to lose their minds on Twitter. It is their minds they lose and certainly not their virginity.
All the while Özil is suffering from ‘injuries’, speculation will continue. Back spasms, knee problems? I do hope his mum is writing notes asking Mr Emery if he can be excused games.
Therein is the issue. He isn’t playing well when he is in the side or not as well as he has done previously. When you delve into ‘pre-assists’ to justify a player, you know he isn’t on top of his game. Unai Emery made it clear early on that reputations mean nothing and the XI is built on form. It’s safe to say Emery doesn’t trust Özil, a situation which never bodes well for a player.
The reality of Özil, as is evident with Germany, is that in a good side, one which is ‘flying’, he is a great player to have. In one which is struggling for consistency, he’s a luxury.
Hitting the Sales
He strikes me as a player who won’t easily fit into Unai Emery’s footballing philosophy. Özil isn’t lazy on the pitch but he also isn’t defensively-minded. You ought not expect him to be either; he is an offensive weapon but at the moment, blunt.
The statement from his agent made me question where Özil’s career is going? As I mentioned before, it was unnecessary and strikes me that he is desperate to stop his client being eased out of the club. The problem is that Özil is one of the few players we have for whom a sizeable fee could be raised. Even then, his current form is damaging that.
While it’s always a pleasure to watch a footballer of his talent in action, the talent is not always evident and these days, he’s rarely inaction; inactive, certainly.
Maybe, just maybe, the injuries are genuine and he’s been playing through the pain barrier. However, club utterances never mention these in the injury round-up and Unai Emery isn’t convincing at his press conferences. Could it be confirmation bias pointing me in those directions? Time will tell.
Özil needs a big second half of the season to convince me that we shouldn’t be looking to move him on next summer. I suspect Unai Emery is thinking along similar lines, that £350k per week can be better utilised. There are others as well – Mkhitaryan, for example – who aren’t delivering consistently.
June through August 2019 feels like it will be a tumultuous transfer window.