Mesut Ozil, Arsenal’s current record signing, has been the centre of attention all season primarily dominating headlines due to the ongoing contract negotiations that leave the Gunners in a very precarious position. With just one year left on his current deal, history is not in Arsenal’s favour with one common trend which will worry the Gunners – Ozil has never once in his professional career agreed a contract extension.
Arsene Wenger will almost certainly remain at the helm next season, and Ozil values his relationship with his managers above almost anything. So that’s that box ticked. Life is generally good under the current Arsenal boss as he allows Ozil to express himself as much as possible for better or for worse, and allows him unparalleled freedom unlike other top bosses would. There’s a reason why not many top clubs are knocking on Arsenal’s door. Ozil is a luxury player.
But whether you’re a fan of the 28-year-old or not, the playmaker is an exceptional talent and with the right players around him i.e. a quick centre forward who can latch onto his through balls and actually finish, he can be devastating. But that remains the big IF. Should Arsenal fail to really invest in the squad this summer and bring in the marquee centre forward that we’ve been crying out for years, plus fail to meet his very high wage demands, Ozil may be sold this summer.
A quick peak at his past offers plenty of insight into how he and his agent/s have tended to operate.
Schalke – 2006-2008
The then 19-year-old was making his breakthrough into the senior setup and offered some playing time. However the growing concern of Ozil’s camp was the lack of consistent minutes with a new contract on the table awaiting his signature. He refused, was hung out to dry by his manager Mirko Slomka and told he wouldn’t even be allowed to train with the youth teams unless he signed fresh terms.
As one of Germany’s brightest young talents, he was attacked by the media and accused of being a mercenary, but at this stage of his career Ozil demanded minutes and at Schalke there were unfulfilled promises with the signing of Ivan Rakitic who blocked his path into the starting XI.
Werder Bremen – 2008-2010
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Werder were regular title contenders and when they came in to acquire Ozil for €5million they promised him minutes and the perfect understudy in Diego. The German flourished, winning his first major honours in the German Cup and became an established first team player.
Ozil started to attract huge attention for his performances for the Bundesliga outfit over the next two seasons and a call-up to the German national team ensued. This lead to Arsene Wenger privately calling him which laid the seed for his eventual move to north London. He tasted Champions League football, which is when he confided in his agent that he wanted to play for Jose Mourinho after facing his all-conquering Inter Milan team, but as he headed off to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa it was time for the next round of contractual negotiations. Once again he refused a new deal and was acquired by Real Madrid for only €15million after talks directly with Mourinho, fending off interest from England and Barcelona (he visited their facilities, but Pep Guardiola failed to make the effort to meet the player).
Real Madrid 2010-2013
Ozil spoke fondly of his time in Madrid and in his book Gunning For Greatness: My Life, the playmaker consistently speaks of Mourinho as an amazing tactician and elevates the Portuguese manager on a pedestal. But despite some incredible assist statistics and being an integral part of the Madrid side, another round of contract negotiations ensued and came to a grinding halt with Ozil’s party seemingly expecting far higher wages than Fiorentino Perez was prepared to fork out. He also fell out of favour with Carlo Ancelotti and consequently Ozil contacted Wenger as he was seeking a new club with Madrid wanting to fund Gareth Bale’s arrival. Hilariously Arsenal kept the deal in full secrecy throughout the remaining two weeks of the summer transfer window to ensure Bale’s move from Spurs went ahead without a hitch, Ozil then made the surprise move to north London as Arsenal’s record signing for close to €50million.
Ozil arrived in London to so much hype, comparisons were made to Dennis Bergkamp’s arrival in 1996 that proved the catalyst for a turn of fortunes at Arsenal. However while we’ve seen some incredible performances from Ozil in red and white, plus two FA Cup trophies, the fact that he divides opinion despite winning the World Cup with Germany is a telling inditement in itself.
The issue of contract renewal has reared its horrible head again and considering his previous dealings with contracts that have enabled him to hop around relatively freely, it looks as if Ozil will leave this summer. Arsenal won’t risk losing him for free.
The only thing that appears to be in Arsenal’s favour is the fact that there are limited suitors. The likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and top clubs in England just don’t want to pay a fortune for a luxury player such as Ozil that has proven inconsistent in England. Even former club Real Madrid have a buy-back clause and first refusal should a rival Spanish club make a move from their former No.10, but at €50million, there’s little chance of that happening.
Given his close relationship with Jose Mourinho, you’d expect Manchester United to show more interest but their intentions lay elsewhere as they look for an expensive solution up front.
Should Arsenal manage to reach an agreement with Ozil, and the Gunners finally get the star striker we have been craving this summer, then the German international could well thrive in north London and finally prove his doubters wrong consistently.
But realistically, Alexis Sanchez is most definitely the priority when it comes to wages as he has been doing the business on a consistent basis. It’s difficult to see how Ozil warrants doubling of his current wages.
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