With the International break now upon us, and our next Premier League game at Liverpool still a couple of weeks away, the popular press in the U.K. have again turned their attention to the ongoing ‘unrest’ at Arsenal as regards the future of their star attacking players, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, neither of whom have signed new contracts to date and both are therefore effectively ‘free agents’ come January 2018.
Whilst it has long been muted that Manchester City are in pole position in the ‘race’ (if indeed there is one?!) to sign Sanchez, it is becoming increasingly speculated that Mesut Ozil fancies a move north-west to Old Trafford, to rejoin Jose Mourinho, who managed the German International whilst at Real Madrid.
So, all this begs the question: would United fans welcome news of the former Schalke and Werder Bremen midfielder coming to Manchester next summer, or would he be regarded as ‘persona non grata’, a possible disruptive presence around the Club…?
Let’s consider both sides of the argument.
- Mesut Ozil is undoubtedly an extremely talented player, one who has shown many times in the past just how devastating he can be with the ball at his feet. In his debut season for Real Madrid he notched up an incredible 25 goal assists, the highest of any player in Europe. He has been nominated for the coveted F.I.F.A. Ballon d’Or award, and finished each of his three seasons with the Spanish giants as their leading assists player.
- Having joined Arsenal in September 2013 for £42.5 million (making Ozil the most expensive German football player of all time), the Premier League holds no surprises for Ozil anymore. Indeed, he played an instrumental role in helping the Gunners to win the F.A. Cup in 2014 & 2015, and finished 2015-16 with 19 assists in the league, which has only been bettered by a certain Thierry Henry (with 20 assists) in Premier League history.
- Mesut Ozil would cost Manchester United no transfer fee whatsoever. As a result of not signing the latest contract offered to him by the Arsenal board, the German will become a ‘free agent’ in January, and will be able to negotiate a contract with United (in which he would undoubtedly seek a sizeable basic salary package since the Red Devils would have no fee to pay to Arsenal for his services) for the beginning of the 2018-19 season.
- Jose Mourinho is widely rumoured to have asked United Chief Executive Ed Woodward to try to sign Inter Milan’s Croatian left-winger Ivan Perisic during the past summer transfer window, a move which failed to materialise as the Serie A giants simply did not wish to sell their experienced winger. If that is indeed the case, then there is every reason to believe that the Portuguese would be interested in bringing Ozil to United, since he plays in the same position as Perisic and, of course, the two men know each other very well from their days together at the Bernabeu.
- Mesut Ozil has not exactly set the Premier League ‘on fire’ for the past 12 months; indeed, when fans gather to talk about ‘lazy’ players, his name is usually one of the first mentioned, and whilst that may be slightly harsh on the German, his languid ‘body language’ and almost disinterested appearance in some games does not aid his cause in this argument. If we are wishing to sign a top, in-form player from Arsenal for no fee, then Sanchez would be a much more popular choice, even if we do have to get into a wages bidding-war with Manchester City to seal the transfer. To be quite honest, Mesut Ozil hasn’t shown the form and displays that he was capable of producing in his Real Madrid days, nor even in his earlier Arsenal career, for quite some considerable time, and is now 28 years old. He should be at the very peak of his playing abilities but many who watch Arsenal on a regular basis would argue that the Gunners play a better game when Ozil is not on the pitch at all…..
- Even during the summer whilst the rumours of moves for Ivan Perisic were persisting, a lot of United fans were scratching their heads, wondering why we needed to go after yet another left-sided attacking player whenever the Club already has superb young talents like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford who can (and do) operate in that position. If you also consider that Ashley Young can play in that position very effectively if required to do so, it almost begs the question: why would we want to sign Mesut Ozil at all? He doesn’t play in a position in which we are ‘short’ in the squad, and coupled with his recent poor form, many United fans would argue that his arrival would be to the detriment of the continuing development of Martial and, in particular, Rashford, since the experienced German would not be coming to Old Trafford to sit on the bench….
- As mentioned above, despite the attraction of signing a talented player from a Premier League rival for no transfer fee, there is little doubt that Mesut Ozil’s agent would be demanding a substantial basic wage packet for his client (and indeed hefty remuneration for his own “services”). Quite frankly, if I were representing the Club in the negotiations, I would be wanting assurances from Jose Mourinho that he really believed Ozil would become an integral member of the 1st team squad before I would be willing to agree to what would be likely to be a wage packet in excess of £150,000 per week on a minimum 3-year deal.
Whether the rumours of Ozil wishing to push for a transfer to Old Trafford are factual or not remains to be seen in the coming weeks and months, but I am certain his signing would split the United fan base opinion on whether he would be a worthwhile arrival or not.
Personally, despite the magnificent displays Ozil has produced earlier in his career and his undoubted ability to almost ‘win a game on his own’ if on song, I can’t help but feel that his signing would be counter-productive to what Manchester United have always strived to do as a club, which is to both buy and/or self-produce young players like Martial and Rashford and let them develop and showcase their talents on the English and European stages.
If we are to conduct a raid on the Emirates next summer, I’d far rather we emerged with Alexis Sanchez, who would undoubtedly strike a fearsome partnership with Romelu Lukaku. Unlike the ‘hot and cold’ Ozil, the Chilean striker has consistently been a top performer since he arrived at Barcelona after a starring performance for his country at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Indeed many still express surprise that the Catalan giants let him move to Arsenal at all.
However, in true United tradition, what would make me happiest of all is to see kids like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Angel Gomes and Axel Tuanzebe all emerge to be stars of the new generation… It’s what we do best! Ozil? No thanks.