Twelve months ago, Mesut Özil said he was waiting for a decision on Arsene Wenger’s future before signing a contract. A year later, why are extension talks still stalling?
Last January, Özil spoke to German magazine Kicker about his Arsenal future. He told the outlet: “I want to be clear on what Wenger is doing. I feel very, very happy at Arsenal and have shown the club that I am prepared to extend my contract.
“The fans want me to stay. Now it’s just down to the club. The club knows that I am, above all, here because of Arsene Wenger – who signed me and whose trust I have. The club also knows that I just want to be clear on what the manager will do.”
Wenger signed a contract extension over the summer, and will stay at the club until at least 2019 as things stand. Özil, on the other hand, will leave for free at the end of the current campaign.
So what’s the real reason the German hasn’t signed on?
Most likely, it has to do with how the season is going at the moment. Arsenal might be in the League Cup final and Europa League knockout rounds, but they’re way off top four in the Premier League.
Unless the Gunners go and win the Europa League, that means their Champions League chances are fading for a second consecutive season. Özil consistently talks about his dream of winning the European competition, so Arsenal at least need to be playing in it.
I’m sure a good run of form now could force his hand. The other big reason is probably largely to do with the Gunners’ commitment to improving the squad.
Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were regular first-team players last season, and now they play for rival clubs. Signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan was a good effort from a damage limitation point of view, but realistically the club need more.
Hopefully signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could make the difference in this regard. If the striker joins and scores a load of goals, pushing Arsenal up the table, that could kill two birds with one stone.
We’ll have to wait and see if it’s enough.