After months of uncertainty, anguish and damn right hysteria from Arsenal fans, Arsene Wenger surprised possibly everyone by pulling off the signing of the summer. Hell, Wenger probably even surprised himself when he smashed Arsenal’s transfer record to sign German international and Real Madrid star Mesut Özil for £42m.
Arsenal’s summer right up until the 2nd of September had been practically a parody of all Arsenal transfer windows. Gunners everywhere sat anxiously at home while Ivan Gazidis repeatedly stated that Arsenal had money to spend and that there was sh*t loads of it.
After being (ironically) priced out of moves for Higuain, Gustavo and Suarez and then picking up Yaya Sanago and Mathieu Flamini on free’s, Gunners felt that this would be another one of those transfer windows. That summer where Wenger would fill in the necessary gaps that would just about ensure a 4th place spot.
However, one huge stroke of luck followed another when Özil suddenly felt his place at Real Madrid was threatened, despite Gareth Bale’s arrival being imminent for some time.
Wenger did not hesitate as Mesut reportedly turned down PSG and Manchester United in favour of a move to North London. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that Wenger’s ability to charm Özil that day could go down as one of the defining moments of his career when people look back at his time at Arsenal.
Mesut isn’t the first player to be wooed by sweet talk from Wenger but he was quick to justify his move by mentioning the word ‘faith’ an odd 6 times upon his arrival.
His arrival has completely revitalised the Arsenal community, you could almost go as far and say it has united them for the first time in years. He is the world class signing that Arsenal have been crying out loud for what feels like ages.
Without getting into too much statistical depth, you’d be hard stretched to find someone who doesn’t think he is the best no.10 in the world. To put it bluntly, Mesut is the best playmaker in the world – the sort of player strikers, like Giroud, thrive upon. My Twitter feed was instantly showered with Özil montages; compilations of his best passes and skills. Yet very few did justice to the king of assists – a man who has recorded 91 of them for club and country since August 2010. Yikes.
Özil, somewhat outcast after Bale’s world record move to Real Madrid, could signify something huge, something bigger than the transfer itself; Wenger’s move away from his convictionist ideologies. A willingness to adapt and compete in an ever growing market – the ability to evolve in tough circumstances.
Without sounding more pretentiously phoney, this transfer could prove highly influential in the future. Fail and Wenger will probably revert back to his old ways. Succeed and Arsenal could be welcoming on board another £40m signing come next summer. Özil’s effect could be that massive.
As for Arsenal’s other transfer signings, it’s okay to suggest they seem disappointing when placed alongside Mesut Özil but it doesn’t mean they will prove useless.
The Flamini signing, albeit underwhelming at first, could prove extremely useful as the season stretches and Arsenal’s inevitable injury lists stacks up. His versatility is easily one of his strongest attributes since he has the ability to play deep in midfield as well as both full back spots. Considering Arsenal’s first choice fullbacks are the injury-prone duo of Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna, Flamini could no doubt prove very useful midway through the season.
As for Viviano, I guess it’s safe to say Wojciech Szczesny has had an indifferent 12 months. A few bad patches of form to not being ‘mentally’ fit to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League has left some Gooners feeling rather insecure about their options in goal. Still, despite coming out on top with some recent solid form, Palermo goalkeeper, Emiliano Viviano, has joined the club on loan. The Italian international impressed on loan at Fioretina last year and will provide adequate competition for Szczesney – something Vito Mannone and Fabianski could not. It’s fair to say a lot of pressure has to be taken off Wojciech if he is to realise his undoubted potential and Wenger’s move to limit his chances this season could ultimately prove fruitful in the future.
Arsene Wenger still isn’t without his doubters though. Despite some sensible signings and some downright extraordinary signings, some people still feel Wenger did not strengthen where he needed to most. A holding midfielder, a world class striker and possibly another centre-back are moves that some feel Wenger should have took.
Regardless of what you think, it’s evident that Wenger feels Arteta/Ramsey/Flamini are capable of performing the pivot role to the required standard while signing Özil was the second best thing after missing out on Suarez. Özil is a player who can decide a game with a single pass. He’s that good. So when a player of Özil’s talents become available, it’s hardly irresponsible to focus all your efforts on securing that one world class player. You could argue Arsenal didn’t need Mesut Özil. But then again, Manchester United didn’t need Robin van Persie.
It’s strange to think that after signing a player of Özil’s class, expectations – at the moment – haven’t changed. A top 4 finish is once again the minimum while a push for a spot near the eventual Champions would applauded. However, you wouldn’t have to search far to find a Gunner who feels quietly confident that this could finally be their year that they finally re-assert themselves along side the Premier League’s big boys.
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