His touch is mercurial; his vision imperious – both of these assets mean Mesut Ozil is a big favourite with Arsenal fans. But increasingly Gunners fans are looking to next season and that could well mean a Gunners team without the gifted German playmaker. That’s because boss Unai Emery is said to be considering off-loading Ozil.
Yes, he has all the ability in the world; and yes, at the Emirates Stadium he delivers wonderful performances, more often than not, that have supporters purring. But away from home, many fans and critics think Ozil under-performs – they feel that his work ethic isn’t quite what it should be. More importantly, it would seem that his Spanish coach may well feel the same as he has dropped him for a number of high-profile matches this season.
With or without Ozil, Arsenal have endured a topsy-turvy season yet if they win against Leicester on Sunday they still have a chance of gaining a top four spot in the Premier League. Some observers suggest Ozil is a luxury player in a side that Emery wants to graft more diligently than their opponents.
It is the case, of course, that Emery inherited Ozil; a legacy of the Arsene Wenger dynasty. And it is not beyond the realms of possibility to think he could well be part of a clear-out in the summer as Emery sets about bringing in his own recruits to fit into his footballing philosophy; one that includes at its very heart the notion that working harder than your direct opponent will hand you an advantage. Other players, too, could find themselves being shown the exit door at the Emirates. But players such as Shkodran Mustafi, Carl Jenkinson, Mo Elneny, and others, will be reasonably easy to offload. Ozil, on the other hand, comes with a wage bill of circa £350,000 a week. That figure could well be a stumbling block in easing his passage away from the north London giants.
Before he put pen to paper on his new deal, it was reported that the Chinese Super League could be a likely destination for the World Cup winner. Might that still be the case if Emery decides to seek to let him go? Only time will tell, of course.
A number of high-profile players have already made the switch to China and the clubs there aren’t afraid of dishing out big contracts to lure the big names and thus secure not only their talent but the global awareness they bring to a league very much still in its infancy. Watch this space but don’t be at all surprised to see Ozil soon lining up alongside players such as Paulinho, Oscar, Hulk and Marouane Fellaini.