After months of fruitless searching for a marquee summer signing, Arsene Wenger finally got his man. In a sensational transfer deadline-day swoop, the Arsenal boss smashed the club’s transfer record and shelled out £42.5m on German international Mesut Özil from Real Madrid:
Having fallen out of favour under Carlo Ancelotti after the arrival of Isco and Gareth Bale, Özil revealed > that, ahead of World Cup 2014, a last-minute conversation with Wenger persuaded him to swap the sunnier climes of La Liga for north London:
“I was certain…that I would stay at Real Madrid. Then I realised that I didn’t have the confidence of the coach and the officials after all. I am a player who needs that confidence and I saw that I would have that at Arsenal and that is why I am going there. Wenger gives me the confidence that I can develop further and I want to be in top form for the World Cup next year. I spoke to him for a long time on the telephone and he told me his expectations and he trusts me, which I need as a player. I am a player who always wants to play a whole match, the full 90 minutes. I am looking forward to the new challenge.”
A product of the Schalke youth academy, the five foot 11 Özil made his debut during the 2006/07 season. Over the course of a year-and-a-half, he produced five assists from 30 Bundesliga appearances before being picked up by Werder Bremen midway through the 2007/08 campaign.
After registering a single goal and assist over his first few months in his new surrounds, Özil began to show his potential. The following season harvested three goals and 15 assists in 28 league matches before he stepped up another level, with nine goals and 17 assists persuading Real Madrid to splash out €15m for his services in the summer of 2010.
Over the following three seasons, Özil lit up La Liga with a series of outstanding creative displays. In 105 league matches for the Spanish outfit, he registered an incredible 55 assists in addition to 19 goals – what’s more remarkable is that he was afforded the full 90 minutes in just 26 of those appearances. As the statistics show, he created 4.07 goalscoring opportunities per 90 minutes for team-mates in the 2012/13; putting that into perspective, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso managed 2.05 and 2.06 respectively. Indeed, with more assists to his name than any other player in Europe’s top divisions over the past five seasons, it’s little wonder even Jose Mourinho has acknowledged the 24-year-old is “the best number 10 in the world”.
On the international stage, Özil has been as equally impressive – 21 goals and 32 assists for the German national side highlight the fact he is no flat-track bully.
Set to be handed the role in “the hole” behind Olivier Giroud in Wenger’s default 4-2-3-1 formation, Özil has the ability to unlock even the meanest Premier League backline over the season ahead. The German’s eye for a killer pass or through-ball, allied with Santi Cazorla’s creativity on the Gunners’ left, will ensure both Giroud and Theo Walcott can be guaranteed a level of service which is likely to be second to none. Walcott’s runs from the right will benefit hugely from Özil’s defence-splitting passes, while Giroud must be licking his lips at the multitude of chances bound to come his way.
Özil, undoubtedly, will be the chief orchestrator at the Emirates – handed the role of dictating play by Wenger, his arrival was even fundamental to Mourinho’s decision to block Demba Ba’s loan move across London, with the Chelsea boss now viewing Wenger’s men as genuine title contenders. The knock-on effect on the Arsenal midfield means Tomas Rosicky now looks set for a bench role once again, while Jack Wilshere will be forced to battle it out with Aaron Ramsey for a place alongside Mikel Arteta in the double-pivot.
Coming in at 10.0 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), Özil has already been subject to a substantial bandwagon since his introduction to the game yesterday – already, over 87,000 managers have splashed out the cash. With Walcott a little cheaper at 9.5 and Giroud priced at just 8.7 and rising, though, it seems more likely that those two will be the real beneficiaries from the new boy’s creative endeavours – indeed, with more points per goal for midfielders and clean sheet points to also consider, Walcott’s appeal is arguably the greater of any Arsenal FPL option right now.
Priced at 8.8 in the Sky Sports game and 5.5 in the Sun Dream Team; Özil is by no means cheap but his attributes make him a viable option across both games. Passing bonus points and Man of the Match awards can be expected in the former, while plenty of 7+ Star Man bonuses look on the cards in the Sun game – somewhat atoning for the fact that there are no awards for assists here.
As Arsenal prepare for a superb run of matches which sees them face only two of last term’s top six in the next 11 Gameweeks, the transfers in will surely continue to pick up pace. Home clashes against Stoke, Norwich, Southampton and Hull, allied with visits to Sunderland, Swansea, West Brom, Palace and Cardiff afford Özil the chance to hit the ground running and vindicate Wenger’s decision to finally unleash the cheque book and bring a real touch of class to the Emirates.