by Gautam Viswanathan Sep 5, 2013 14:56 IST
On the 2nd of September, Mesut Ozil signed for Arsenal, and it will be a day football fans will remember for a long, long time.
Not just because in doing so, Arsenal broke their transfer record nearly threefold by signing the German, making him the world’s most expensive German footballer to date (the Gunners paid £42.5 million for the midfielder, smashing the £15 million record fee they forked out for Andrei Arshavin in 2009). But because in signing Ozil, Arsenal have made a statement of intent, announcing they are once again ready to challenge for silverware.
Because after so many years of seeing so many world-class players leave the Emirates season after season, Arsenal have signalled that their era of letting their stars go in order to continue to deliver Champions League football season after season and continue to provide payments to erase the debt that was accrued because of the construction of the Emirates Stadium is now slowly but steadily coming to an end.
The Gunners being forced to sell their best was a phenomenon that had taken place ever since Patrick Vieira left Highbury in 2005 and Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Fredrik Ljungberg, Sol Campbell et al continued to follow in the wake of their captain. The resources that Arsenal had committed to the Emirates Stadium meant they did not have the finances necessary to find suitable replacements for the world-class talent that had departed North London in a market that was rapidly changing shape because of the arrival of oligarchs such as Roman Abramovich.
But Arsenal fans who go to their club’s official website and see the new holder of the club’s number eleven jersey cannot help but grin in disbelief because the fact that Ozil in a Gunner has still not sunk in. Because it’s not just any run-of-the-mill midfielder who has been signed just to add bodies to the dangerously thin Arsenal squad. This is Mesut Ozil, one of Germany’s (and the world’s) best midfielders.
The Germany National Football Team construct their football around Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger and the former will link up with a clutch of players who boast of the same pedigree that he carries.
At Ashburton Grove, he will play alongside Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky, who are arguably some of the most talented creative players the Premier League can boast of now.
Wilshere and Ramsey are part of the British core that are considered central to Arsenal’s long-term future and 24-year-old Ozil looks set to be a part of that as well. His presence means the Gunners have in their ranks a player who represents the best of both worlds. With more than 150 for Real Madrid and just three caps short of his 50th appearance for the Nationalmannschaft, Ozil has both the experience that only comes via winning things and the longevity that ensures he is at the Emirates for years to come.
Last season, Arsenal did look out of sorts when their opponents shackled Cazorla, and with their creative heartbeat stifled, Arsene Wenger’s men looked short of ideas. The presence of Ozil means that Arsenal will never be stifled of creativity in the middle of the park.
A significant portion of Arsenal fans regard Emmanuel Adebayor as a very mediocre striker, and argue that the reason he was so successful was because of the presence of Cesc Fabregas, who served up chance after chance on a plate for the Togolese striker.
A quick look at the stats would show that they are right: Adebayor scored 30 goals in 48 games during his breakout 2007-2008 season. Last season, in the white of Tottenham, he scored eight goals in 32 games.
And it probably won’t properly sink in until they finally see Ozil in the Gunners’ famed Red and White jersey, two weeks from now at the Stadium of Light where they will face Sunderland.
Olivier Giroud scored 17 goals and contributed to a further 11 for Arsenal last season and has hit the ground running at the start of his second season in England. Feeding off Ozil’s creativity will only help hasten the improvement the 26-year-old has shown from last season to this one.
Ozil is sure to ply the Frenchman with chances galore, in addition to providing a very-well known goal-scoring threat from the middle of the park. During the 2012-13 season, Ozil racked up 35 assists for club and country, in addition to scoring 16 goals.
In 2011, Ozil topped the European and domestic assists charts with 25. In 2012, he ranked first in assists in La Liga with 17 to his name.
But all the stats aside, Ozil’s arrival represents hope for the Gunners and their fans all around the world.
Arsenal fans are unfortunately now used to being the butt of all jokes due to their much-publicised eight-year trophy drought, which has been brought about due to the move to the Emirates and the perennial lack of experience in the Arsenal ranks, which sees the Gunners implode in crucial situations that would’ve seen other teams pull through.
Ozil has won a plethora of silverware at domestic and international level and knows exactly what to do when the going gets tough,
which is not something you can say about much of the current Arsenal squad despite their being a good number of experienced internationals on the team roster.
It has also put an end to the myth that Arsene Wenger never spends and that the top brass at Arsenal are only concerned with making a sizeable profit year after year.
The reason Wenger could not spend is because he did not have the resources to spring for reinforcements, and needed to sell his best players to bring in new ones and add more bodies to the squad. He knew this would happen, of course, and decided to commit himself to the club for the long term even before the foundation stone of the Emirates Stadium had been laid, silencing the critics who say that Wenger puts the needs of the boardroom before those of the club.
The media of course construed this to be a failure in Arsenal’s vision of promoting youth through the ranks and sustaining the club primarily on players that had been blooded by the Gunners. Youth players whose quality cannot be denied, having played a key role in providing them Champions League football year after year despite there being no experienced players on the club’s books.
How conveniently they had forgotten that clubs such as Portsmouth and Rangers had gone the wrong way after not having the right people to guide the club during its years of transition.
That period of transition is now coming to an end. The beginning of that end arrived on the 2nd of September. Ozil will be the first of many high-profile signings to grace the Emirates Stadium turf and ensure that glory returns to North London.
Or at least the red half anyway.
Click here</strong> to read Pulasta Dhar's view on the Ozil signing, where he says that he's not the answer to Arsenal's problems.
Follow Gautam on Twitter @GBVishJourno
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