Per on Transfer Hits & Misses Plus Ozil

It’s a game which is almost as popular as Arsene’s ‘Nearly Signed XI’. Wenger’s list is so long that he could field a different line-up every season. Of course, the genuine ones who we tried to sign rather than a cheeky cheap bid is considerably shorter.

This version of the game, however, is designed to drive you mad. Serge Gnabry is the cheerleader for ‘the ones that got away’ even if his tale is less straightforward than it seems.

That he didn’t feature under Pulis damns the Welshman as much as the player. It also points to Arsenal being less exacting in their standards when it came to loan deals. The media back in the day reported criticism of Gnabry’s attitude at West Brom; what provoked the seeming rebellion was never mentioned.

Anyway, Gnabry departed when his path to the first team was blocked by more experienced pros. This is where the criticism of Wenger falls. In his position, few of us would have promoted a young player ahead of the likes of Theo Walcott.

The season Gnabry departed Walcott had his best return for four seasons; 19 goals in 37 games. OK, he didn’t deliver at any point after that but he was at that point.

Should Arsene need to be braver? With all the grief swirling, would any manager take the risk of a young talented player? Perhaps they would and let’s not forget, Wenger had previous when it came to naively believing young players were content with his paternalistic environment.

That Gnabry within a year pointed to another Cesc and Barcelona situation. Arsenal, as a club, were always fighting a losing battle. If he hadn’t gone that summer for peanuts, he was going not long after for not much more.

A Young Man’s Game

It’s a situation the club is actively seeking to avoid in the future. The cheap side of it, not the losing promising youngsters. The philosophy is one Per Mertesacker bought into.

He needed to learn a lot but at that time we had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott in front of him, so he wouldn’t have played, so he needs to go somewhere else.

But, for us, it’s then how can we create value out of these players who are part of our academy because, as I said, only a small percentage end up in the first-team at Arsenal.

Per Mertesacker on Serge Gnabry

This summer saw a number of players for whom some had great hopes. For Xavier Amaechi, “we get a fee and we get add-ons” while Krystian Bielik brought us £10m.

If players are as good as people believe, someone else will always profit. Angers, for instance, pocketed £20m for the Jeff, giving us another £3-4m on top of the £2.5m we received in the first place. Lyon may get a bigger fee if he delivers on his promise.

He didn’t make the grade at Arsenal for whatever reason. Primarily, you have to think there were 300,000 weekly reasons for that. Maybe not but it seems likely.

Mertesacker is in awe of Mesut Ozil as well as frustrated. His compatriot is “a genius in terms of what he can produce with the ball…he has got that magical sense.”

Ozil, he said, “is not the kind of guy who approaches people and says, ‘You need to do this, that and that’.”

Therein is the rub. His salary in the squad brings a certain standing and a level of expectation. He isn’t meeting them. Or our version of them.

Listen To What The Man Said

The real view of Ozil came in a later comment. “But he delivered magic moments for us, moments when you thought he could go to another level.”

He could go to another level. Could. Might. Nothing is definite; there are unspoken questions in his answer, questions about a teammate. About whether he can deliver. You must remember this is a player Mertesacker knows well, from club and country squads. He’s seen the warts and all.

The frustration revealed itself earlier. “He’s a different character and sometimes I struggled with that. Sometimes I was really p**sed with him for days and weeks.”

You’re not the only one, Per. Ozil is fit again and ready for action but will Unai start him at Watford? I’m not convinced. He might be; we were lacking in attacking creativity in the North London Derby so a rejig at Watford is on the cards. A recall for Dani Ceballos? Ozil in from the start?

One thing is certain, Ozil is no longer the player around whom the side is built. Even Arsene was moving away from that in my view. Certainly, he knew Mesut was not the player to save him and nor is he Unai’s saviour either.

In an unusual pang of conscience, Mertesacker admitted feeling “almost responsible” for Wenger getting the sack. The players, he said, were “responsible for the lack of success” which burnt bridges with the fanbase.

“That connection got lost, definitely,” Papa Per declared. Wenger had to go because “we’re not delivering what everyone wants.”

That’s the nature of football at every level and one he is aware applies to himself. The academy must deliver; Alex Iwobi was an exception in raising £40m (potentially) but there must be plenty more Bieliks or Gnabrys.

A tall order for the BFG.

’til Tomorrow.

12 thoughts on “Per on Transfer Hits & Misses Plus Ozil

  1. C says:

    There have been others when you think we sold Bennacer and got money for him then even more when he made his move to Milan. With that said, its great news that Willock signed a new long term contract.

    Ozil, well I think its pretty clear where the vast majority on here stand regarding him. For the weekend, lets have a go at Watford and play with Ceballos and Ozil with Torriera sitting behind them with our front 3 and really put it to Watford as a statement match of what we can be.

  2. Bill says:

    Great post yogi.

    We missed on Gnabry. No one would argue that was not a mistake. However I think we can say that he is the only academy outfield player in the last 12 years that got away that we really wish we could have a mulligan. That is a great record when you consider there were literally dozens and dozens of players who were every bit as heavily hyped as Gnabry. We have made a lot more mistakes keeping players around who ultimately didn’t live up to expectations and that has cost us a lot of points. Iwobe another academy player we were trying to develop was the player who was taking minutes which could have gone to Gnabry. There has to be a balance and if we kept every heavily hyped academy player around and gave them all chances we would have fallen out of the top 4 many years ago. It was inevitable that eventually we would have one who got away like Gnabry. However only one real miss in 12-15 years since the start of project youth is an incredibly good record. Some will argue they knew all along that Gnabry was going to make it but that conveniently ignores the fact that they said the same thing and were wrong about several dozen others who didn’t make it.

  3. Bill says:

    Ultimately there has to be a balance between the desire to develop academy players and collecting points/winning trophies/top 4. Unfortunately, developing players and winning are competing objectives for the worlds big teams. Its also clear that as more and more money flows into world football other big teams have moved away from developing their own players because in order to compete they have to buy experienced players. Like it or not we have to follow suit if we really want to compete. By far the best part of our own current team which gives us a chance to compete for a top 4 spot is our high powered forward line which cost about $180M in transfer fees and whether we like it or not that is the reality of European football in 2019

  4. Bill says:

    Yogi. My comment went into moderation because I made a mistake when I typed my email address so I copied and pasted it.

    We have talked about Ozil endlessly. I suspect it’s clear to almost everyone who has been watching our games for the last few years now that he is no longer the same player he used to be. The thing which made him special was the ability to make those brilliant defense splitting passes and create dangerous situations when he has the ball at his feet. It used to be that you always thought something good might happen when he touched the ball. However that innate 6th sense that he had to make something positive happen and the vision to see and the ability to execute those brilliant pass has clearly faded in the last few years. The same things happens to every player in history, unfortunately it happened to Mesut at a younger age then we hoped. At this point the lack of defensive nous in midfield and the other negative parts of his game outweigh the declining positive parts. IMO

  5. Steve says:

    Good piece. Sometimes I thought we romanticize with the past a lot. Player will come and go. We will make profit on many and suffer a loss on others. Arsene was a good manager and I sometimes feel we disrespect him a lot. He is the most successful manager in our history.
    Unai Emery has a contract that will end this season except the extra year is activated. So he wants to do anything to win the support of the board and that includes not being ready to carry anyone’s sh**t. It’s just a natural reaction. The comfort and respect Arsenal offers is only available in a few clubs you can count on your fingers. I guess when players and coached arrive here, they don’t want to go except they are forced out.
    Ozil was distracted for many seasons. Let hope now he’s married he can concentrate. If Arsene pamper players, it’s because he knows that self confidence plays a lot in the performance of a player knowing your coach believe in you. It’s that art that Emery will need to learn to be the best.

  6. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    I don’t agree with you Bill that Ozil’s vision is waning. You don’t lose that as a player. What you are seeing is that he needs more time on the ball to make those passes. The flicks and shimmy’s which use to buy him a yard of space aren’t as effective when you can’t execute them at the rate of being closed down by the opposing player. It’s because he doesn’t have time on the ball to impose himself in games why he’s not been as effective for us in his latter years than when he was at Madrid. He’s still that same player, just a little slower in thought and in body. With younger player’s who have had better training and nutrition and are as fit as a butcher’s dog, closing you down in seconds with other players cutting out the angles for passes. Ozil is losing the ball rather than being able to make that killer pass. If we paired Ozil with Guendouzi and Willock, players who will do the running for him and always show for the ball when he’s under pressure then we might see a better work ethic from Ozil. I’d even maybe play 3 at the back and 4 in midfield to have Ozil sit behind the front 3 spreading the ball for our attacks, with Torriera, Guendouzi, Willock doing the running and fetching for him. Pressing/closing winning the ball back isn’t his game. So play him to his strengths. Long and short of it Bill you just don’t lose those quality’s and none of us doubt his ability. He’s a good player Bill irrespective

  7. Blue Yonder says:

    It’s interesting to read Per’s comments about Ozil because I felt, at the time, that Per would be someone that Ozil could relate to and be motivated by and that he might have turned to Per when his game started to go sour. Perhaps he did but, obviously, Per wasn’t able to influence him to any significant degree. So, it all comes back to the player himself, as these things invariably do.

  8. Chukwudi says:

    Gnabry we lost, but you stated it rightly there are Walcott and Chamberlain was much ahead of Gnabry, therefore the regret of losing him is not much on me personally. Ozil very good player on his day and Emery must sort whatever differences he had with him last season, this season Emery won’t be excused if at least we do not make top 4.

  9. Bill says:


    You and I watch the same games and to clear that Ozil is no where close to being as effective as he used to be. It used to be that when he had the ball at his feet you were always thinking something good was going to happen. That is not true anymore. He used to be one of the worlds best at making the final defense splitting passes that lead to a goal being scored. It was almost like he could make them happen automatically. Either he doesn’t see the openings or he no longer has the skill to execute those same passes because they do not happen anymore. . A few years ago if someone who didn’t know the players reputations would watch a game they would know very quickly that Ozil was one of the best players on the pitch. Today if someone watches the only thing they would notice is #10 touches the ball a lot but rarely makes anything happen. We can argue about what part of their skill set a player loses as he hits the downside of his career arc but the end result is the same. They may have a good game or make an occasional good play but they lose the ability to consistently influence the game.

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