After seven-and-a-half years of service, Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal career has finally come to an end.
The signing of the German international in 2013 sent Arsenal fans into delirium, during a period where the club’s best players would often leave, but this time, there was one joining.
Mesut Ozil was the first world class player to be bought during the Emirates era, coming off the back of a La Liga season where he recorded 16 assists in 32 games. As a 24-year-old, who was already world class, Arsenal fans couldn’t wait to see how much better he could get.
His greatly anticipated debut came away to Sunderland where it only took the German 11 minutes to get off the mark, as he controlled Kieran Gibbs’ long range pass with ease and played in Olivier Giroud to get his first assist of many. It was a sign of things to come, and it was almost poetic that the number on the back of the playmaker’s shirt acted as a constant reminder for how long it took him to get his first Arsenal assist.
Ozil ended his first two seasons at Arsenal with 16 league assists in 48 games, the same number he had during his last league season with Real Madrid. Some injuries and games out of position did mean the midfielder struggled to gain any real continuity with his game time, however the following season is where everyone saw Mesut Ozil at his best.
The German carried his Arsenal team mates at times during the 2015/16 season, racking up a sensational 16 assists by Christmas, with the Premier League record standing at 20. However Ozil somehow failed to beat it, despite creating a record-breaking 146 chances for his team mates.
Unfortunately for the playmaker, being let down by poor quality finishing was something he could only get used to in an Arsenal shirt. Who knows how many more records he could’ve broken if his team mates didn’t need four of his chances to score one?
Ozil didn’t quite reach the heights of the previous season in his following one, assisting just 10 times in 33 Premier League games, however unfortunately for everyone involved, the 2017/18 season was the beginning of the end for the silky midfielder.
In January 2018, Ozil signed a massive £350,000 per week contract to keep him at the club until 2021. At the time, everyone was elated, with this being an excellent complement to the Gunners signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the same day.
However, the contract would soon become a label that was constantly over Ozil’s head, with it also becoming a bat for critics to beat him with, and unfortunately this only escalated as time went on.
When Arsene Wenger left that summer, the club brought in three-time Europa League winner Unai Emery to take over, however him and Ozil never saw eye to eye.
Ozil made 24 league appearances under Emery during his first year in charge, however he only managed five goals and two assists in that time, his worst seasonal return since the 2007/08 season when he was a teenager in the Bundesliga.
The 2019/20 season went even worse for Ozil, who played just one of Arsenal’s first ten league games, before then seeing Emery sacked and having Mikel Arteta take over in December.
The future for the German seemed positive to begin with under Arteta, playing in all ten league games leading up to the coronavirus break. However, since the restart, Ozil hasn’t played a single competitive minute for Arteta.
While the reasoning for this can only be speculated, it is sad to see how the playmaker’s career at Arsenal has ended, especially given the excitement that was felt when he first signed.
Ozil went from one of the best midfielders in world football, to a player who did nothing more than cause unrest in the Arsenal camp and suck millions of pounds out of the club. Arsenal will be happy that this saga is finally over, however the German should be remembered more for the good moments he has brought the club rather than the negatives.
The German joined us when no other top player would, and he was the reason other great players, like Alexis Sanchez, wanted to come to North London. Ozil also helped Arsenal to four FA Cup wins and provided us with some magical moments, like Welbeck’s last minute winner against Leicester and his goal that sealed a 2-0 victory against Bayern Munich, amongst others.
Even though the story didn’t end as we all hoped, his loyalty for the club, the quality he added to the team and the elegance and class with which he played football should never be forgotten over an ending that everyone was desperate to be done with.
Thank you for all your years of service Mesut, and the best of luck at Fenerbahçe.
*all stats provided by Transfermarkt.