It’s the saga that, more than once, has threatened to completely overshadow Arsenal’s season. Nobody at Arsenal seems sure what to do with Mesut Ozil. On the basis of his talent alone, he is one of the very best, if not the best, currently at the Emirates Stadium. And yet for reasons that have never been fully disclosed, his future there is under question.
Unai Emery has sent mixed messages. Ozil has been left out of the Arsenal team, and sometimes out of the squad entirely, many times, but he has also been drafted in as captain more than once. The smoke signals suggest that the German playmaker could be sold at the end of the season, though.
Recent reports claim that intermediaries have already been deployed to find a buyer, with Ozil being touted around Europe. There will surely be some interest, although the German’s £350,000-a-week wage might prove to be a stumbling block that prevents a bidding war for the player this summer.
The loss of Ozil at the same time as Aaron Ramsey’s move to Juventus as a free agent will be taken by some as a statement of where Arsenal are as a club right now. Indeed, the optics won’t be good, particularly taking into account the exit of Sven Mislintat, the man hired to overhaul the club’s transfer dealings.
Arsenal should at least attempt to use the situation concerning Ozil’s future to their advantage, though. In the German, they have a valuable asset tied to a long term contract, signed just one year ago. If the budget for the summer is limited, they should use Ozil as a makeweight to get the players they want.
Take Ivan Perisic, for example. The Gunners are believed to be admirers of the Croatian winger, but have so far been frustrated in their efforts to prise him from Inter Milan’s grips. The dangling of Ozil as part of any deal might be enough to convince the Serie A side to part with Perisic, though.
Some will, rightfully, argue that Ozil is worth more than Perisic, but the current situation concerning the former isn’t benefiting Arsenal in any way, so they might as well use him to capture a player Emery can, and is willing to, use.
Of course, Arsenal did something similar with Alexis Sanchez, using the Chilean to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Manchester United. Ozil could allow them to make an even bigger signing that they otherwise wouldn’t have the funds to sanction. They can turn a negative into a positive with the right strategy.
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