This saga has consummated much of the first half of this season and has probably decimated team spirit inside the Arsenal dressing room, not to mention team performance on the pitch from time to time.
We are now entering the middle of the January transfer window and every Arsenal fan can be forgiving for wondering quietly whether or not either Sanchez or Ozil, or both, will stay or go. As this unfortunate debacle goes on, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal only have themselves to blame for it. With 18-24 months to go, if you cannot convince your two superstars to renew their contract, then be decisive and either pay what they want or ship them out (with 12 months remaining), and get quality replacements. You’ve gotta get maximum value for these players, and in today’s crazy market, these two players alone could have easily netted us over a cool £100 million. Alas, we fell asleep at the wheel, and this is where it has pathetically gotten us.
But it is what it is, so what exactly do we do now and who do we want to see stay at the Emirates when the window closes?
For me, Alexis Sanchez is a tremendous player with vast ability, passion, and dedication, but he is also a “gentle” mercenary (unlike Emmanuel Adebayor or Samir Nasri), unfortunately. The weird part is, I don’t actually blame him or fault him one bit. Had Arsenal addressed the team needs and surrounded Sanchez and Ozil with hardworking and quality players, we would have already won the league a couple of times by now. At 28-29 and in the final year of his contract, why should he work hard and run himself to the ground every match day when his teammates are reluctant to follow his example?
Watching Arsenal players press the opposing team is at times quite laughable, especially in midfield. Our idea of pressing the ball is to stay about 10 yards away from the ball carrier and keep backing down until we are inside or on the edge of our penalty area. Or have only one or two players do the pressing while everyone else stays far back resting and watching. Sanchez, I think, is fed up with our work ethic as a team, our lack of discipline in critical moments, our inability to address long ago identified defensive frailties, and our refusal to meet his wage demands or at least come close to it.
I understand all that and if he wants to go and we all know he no longer wants to be a part of Arsenal, then let’s sell him to City quickly and get some decent money (£35-40 million) for him. He will get his customary “dream move” to City, play with a bunch of superstars, be coached by a superstar Manager, win plenty of silverware, and make serious money while at it. His mind was made up long ago and his heart is elsewhere. He only started playing well again this past couple of months because he wants to get out of town this January transfer window and is putting himself on the shopping window. It might be detrimental to the team spirit and performance if he is again forced to stay and, more than likely, I fear that he will put in average performances for a player of his quality. He is not going to the World Cup, therefore, he’s got nothing to worry about.
Ozil’s situation is a bit different, I feel. I believe he does love Arsenal and wants to stay but first needs certain guarantees and monetary compensation before re-signing. If he doesn’t get them, he will not re-sign and simply walk away in June. As they say, he’s got us by the balls. However, unlike Sanchez, Ozil’s got a World Cup to worry about and therefore, he will want to remain sharp and in form. He will want to shut the doubters up. He is a consummate professional and really cares about his beautiful craft. Besides, despite what all the haters say about him, Ozil is a truly gifted and extremely intelligent football player, and does do his part. Yes, it may look lethargic at times or look like he is not putting in a shift defensively on a regular basis but that is not his forte. That is not why he is on the team. His job is to be a facilitator and a creator.
If this team was able to convert just half the number of unbelievably easy chances Ozil creates during any given match, we would all be having a different conversation right now. There are many times when Ozil would bamboozle an entire defence with a simple-looking pass but extremely difficult to execute and I found myself wondering: “How the hell did he see and make that pass and make it look so simple? How did he know that the defenders wouldn’t be able to intercept that pass? Has he got eyes everywhere?” This Arsenal team is built around him, I think, and it would a great loss for us if he were to leave now or in the Summer. I like to compare Ozil to a super-gorgeous, high class, high maintenance girlfriend. You know the type of person she is before deciding to court and date her. Once she becomes your girlfriend, you know exactly what is required of you to keep her around. If you don’t fulfil her every wish/need, she will simply leave your for another lover. No bad feeling. Plain simple. Arsenal have got their “trophy girlfriend” but it remains to be seen whether they can keep “her”.
I truly love both Sanchez and Ozil and would be sad to see either go. But if I had to choose one over the other, I would choose Ozil every day of the week. Somehow, this current Arsenal team just does not look the same without Mesut Ozil playing. I really hope he does stay and renew his contract in the coming months.
Please Arsenal, pay Ozil what he wants now, sign hardworking quality players (especially in defence), replace Sanchez, sell Walcott, Debuchy, Akpom, and a few others and let’s move forward.
Written by: Gino92