How bad would Özil leaving really be?

I have so many questions since Mesut Özil‘s, and actually our whole team’s performance against Manchester City. The main one on everyone’s mind was of course: Why didn’t Wenger start with Alexandre Lacazette up front? Why are you not starting your record signing against probably the biggest team in the league right now? And when he did come on he showed his value immediately. Are Wenger and Lacazette having personal issues? How will it make him feel that he’s not playing? And now that we’re being heavily linked with Nabil Fekir, what will he tell his former Lyon teammate regarding joining us? So many questions, while most of them probably will never be answered. It makes no sense at all.

However, I had a bigger question after the game actually. I was asking myself if it would really be that bad if Özil leaves us? Please don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of him. But so often it doesn’t seem to click with us. In my opinion, he had a shocking performance against The Citizens. Probably his worst in an Arsenal shirt. But you can’t be serious if you doubt his qualities. Özil is from another planet compared to most footballers.

In the past few seasons he has his moments of genius and gets an incredible number of assists. He is a truly phenomenal player without a single doubt. But he is just not the right fit for how we play. You could also say we don’t play a game where he can excel to his absolute top. I am certain he could be today’s version of Dennis Bergkamp. No doubt in my mind whatsoever.

Özil is at his best at the number 10 position, passing, showing his technique and creating chances. But if you look at players around him, there’s pretty much no-one to do the dirty work. Özil is not a tackler. He’s not a physical force to be reckoned with. But he actually is a genius. Everyone knows. It makes him look bad because the Premier League requires you to do your defensive job as well. Especially in a team such as ours and how we play. It’s easy to see why he gets so much negative attention. Such a name, such a fee, such a wage package. That comes with a lot of expectation. But as Özil is not your main man in defensive sense, Petr Cech would be a bad choice for left-winger as well.

To be honest, I don’t think Mesut Özil’s problem is Mesut Özil. It’s the players currently around him and the way we play. He can’t risk going forward and leaving his man if players such as Aaron Ramsey are expected to cover for him. Not that Ramsey isn’t good enough, Ramsey is just not such a dirty-work-player either. We get caught on the break so many times.

If he would have the backing of defensive midfielders such as the likes of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit – like Bergkamp had in his time – Özil would not have to care about his defensive duties so much. In the current team, only Granit Xhaka is a type of the player Özil needs around him. He takes his defensive role seriously and doesn’t shy away from getting his hands… well… feet dirty. He’s not at a level similar to the men mentioned earlier though, and can’t do it by himself.

In the end it doesn’t matter anymore. I think it’s too late now. Özil – and Alexis as well probably – will leave the club. Maybe in January to at least get some cash, but ultimately next summer. I can’t think of a scenario where he would extend his current deal at the moment, except for in my dreams. But, as he doesn’t fit in here it might be best for his own career.

With Wenger’s recent contract extension this summer it’s unlikely that things will change radically here anytime soon. We are unlikely to see big chances in tactics or regarding buying players. It will be awful to watch him shine in another team, I won’t deny. But he is not going to flourish every game with us. If you really love football and watching players of such quality, we should let him go. He is too good for us at this point in time.

Mesut, you probably will never actually read this but if you do, please promise me one thing. I can clearly see your quality and I am surely not alone in that. A lot of us Arsenal supporters wish you all the best for the remainder of your footballing career. We’d love that to be here, but somewhere else as well. You deserve to be played in a system that suits you. We will leave the decision to stay or go completely up to you. But please, don’t pull a fucking Van Persie on us and join our rivals, will you?

Image Credits: Kieran Clarke, CC BY 2.0 license.

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