Nobody could predict what kind of euphoria the last day of the transfer window would bring to Gooners all over the world. Two free transfers and one loan were followed by the sensational purchase of Mesut Özil, one of the best attacking midfielders in the world and one of the best players of Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Some people commented that the purchase suggested “Arsene Wenger finally opened his wallet!”. It wasn’t that hard to agree with them – after all, ever since he took over at Arsenal, Wenger had been known for his reluctance to spend big with 15 million pounds spent on Andrey Arshavin in 2009 being the biggest transfer prior to Monday.
It would be hard to say that Özil isn’t a typical Wenger-purchase. Amount-wise – yes, it’s true that he didn’t follow the pattern of previous Wenger’s signings. If you compare his position prior to the transfer of Thierry Henry before joining Arsenal, the position of Santi Cazorla’s and Nacho Monreal’s former club Malaga with Real Madrid and/or the fact Arsenal have been oriented to Germany and Spain recently, you’ll notice that Özil ticks a lot of boxes in terms of being a typical Wenger purchase.
Thierry Henry was arguably one of the most talented European strikers when he was signed by Juventus in the winter 1999 from AS Monaco. However, Henry never found his feet in Italy, mostly because of the fact he was used as left winger instead of positioned at the center of attack. In the 1999 summer, Henry joined Arsenal from Juventus and became the best Arsenal goal-scorer of all time, mostly thanks to Wenger’s patience and willingness to give Henry the central role in the attack.
Özil’s path was a bit different – it would be nonsense to say that he didn’t show his potential at Madrid. He was one of the best players (Cesc Fabregas only recently stated that Özil was his rivals second best player) and his statistics in terms of key passes and assists were stunning. However, Real Madrid under Florentino Perez have had a self-destructing habit to sell excellent players (Sneijder, Robben, Eto’o, Van der Vaart, Makelele…) in order to finance deals for more expensive toys like Beckham, Owen or Bale. The same thing happened this summer as well – an unconfirmed world-record-purchase of Gareth Bale and the signature of the young Spanish starlet Isco forced Özil out of the club and the Gunners were the quickest to sign him. Let’s hope that the German midfielder’s transfer will turn out to be both a Wenger-esque purchase of Henry and a typical sale of Real Madrid – Real have had 11 unsuccessful attempts to claim La Decima (tenth European title) since 2002 while since leaving Sneijder, Robben and Eto’o have all won the Champions’ League at least once since Zidane’s volley in Glasgow, the most important volley in the history of European club competitions that secured the last European title for Real Madrid.
Özil doesn’t have too many degrees of separation with Cazorla either. Our Spanish wizard played for Malaga who fell into financial troubles which forced them to sell some of their best players. Arsenal were the quickest to snap him up and he has been the best Arsenal player since. Real Madrid’s situation can hardly be called “financial troubles” due to their stature and revenues but they needed some cash after they forked out a huge sum (between 91 and 100 million euros) on Gareth Bale. Arsenal used the fact that window suddenly opened and got themselves one of the best attacking midfielders in the world.
Finally, there is a visible Spanish-German orientation that means The British Core (Jenkinson, Ramsey, Wilshere, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gibbs) is enriched with Spanish (Cazorla, Monreal, Arteta…and let’s not forget about Bellerin) and German talents (Mertesacker, Podolski, Eisfeld, Gnabry, Zelalem). Özil – a German of Turkish origin that reached a world-class level in Primera – is a bit of both. It is something that should do wonders for both Arsenal and English football – let’s not forget that German clubs Bayern and Borussia Dortmund played against each other in the Champions’ League Final 2013 while Spain have won three major international competitions in a row (EURO 2008, World Cup 2010 and EURO 2012).
One thing is certain – if Özil makes an impact that matches his talent, he will earn himself a statue just like Thierry Henry!