If you believe reports, Mesut Ozil will only sign a new contract if he gets the number 10 shirt.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal shows his frustration in front Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on March 1, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

How big a deal is a shirt number?

Well, if you believe reports in The Sun, it’s a very big deal. They say the 29-year-old will only sign a contract extension if he can wear the number 10 jersey, as the number is “important for his branding”.

The number itself is iconic in football, as it’s been worn by some of the greatest players of all time and has become symbolic with the best player in the team. That player typically tends to be a playmaker. Jack Wilshere is Arsenal’s occupant.

You can understand it having some importance to Ozil given his roots in football. However, he’s only managed to get his desired number once in his whole club career when he was at Real Madrid.

He wore the no. 17 as a Schalke player, then wore the no. 11 in the four years he was at Werder Bremen. Even as he developed into one the best playmakers in Europe, he still didn’t get the no. 10. The shirt, at that time, was worn by Brazilian midfielder Diego Ribas.

When he joined Real Madrid, he was initially the no. 23, as the 10 shirt was worn by, of all people, Lassana Diarra. When Ozil’s became a consistent and important part of the team, he wanted the number 10.

Upon joining Arsenal, Jack Wilshere had the shirt, so the German international went for 11. He’s kept that number since, even as Wilshere’s struggled with injuries.

On the whole, it feels like a petty issue, and not something that should determine his fate at the club. There are far bigger issues for Ozil and Arsenal to consider than the number he has on his back.