Mesut Özil’s time at Arsenal Football Club was a rollercoaster ride, filled with moments of brilliance, high expectations, and ultimately, a turbulent departure. In this article, we will delve into Özil’s journey at the North London club, from the excitement of his arrival to the unfortunate circumstances that led to his exit.
I. The Arrival: A Marquee Signing
Mesut Özil signed for Arsenal in September 2013 for a then club-record fee of £42.5 million from Real Madrid. The transfer sent shockwaves through the football world and marked a new era for the Gunners.
Fans and pundits alike were excited to see a player of Özil’s calibre in the Premier League and at Arsenal.
- Instant Impact: Özil hit the ground running at Arsenal, registering a goal and multiple assists in his first few matches. His creative abilities and vision on the pitch were a breath of fresh air for the team.
- Hope and Expectations: Özil’s arrival signalled a renewed ambition for Arsenal, as the club looked to challenge for major trophies after a long period of relative stagnation. The fans believed that Özil would be the catalyst for a new era of success.
II. The Golden Years
During his time at Arsenal, Özil produced moments of magic and enjoyed several successful seasons. His creativity and vision were instrumental in the team’s successes.
- FA Cup Triumphs: Özil played a crucial role in Arsenal’s four FA Cup victories in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2020.
- His performances in crucial matches, including assists and important goals, showcased his talent and ability to perform on the big stage.
- Individual Accolades: Özil’s exceptional playmaking skills were evident throughout his tenure at Arsenal. In the 2015-16 season, he led the Premier League in assists, registering an impressive 19 and coming close to breaking Thierry Henry’s record. His contributions were recognised as he was named Arsenal’s Player of the Season for 2015-16.
III. The Decline
However, Özil’s Arsenal career took a downturn, marked by inconsistent performances and growing tensions within the club.
- Contract Dispute: Özil’s contract situation became a point of contention as negotiations dragged on. In January 2018, he eventually signed a new deal worth a reported £350,000 per week, making him the club’s highest-paid player. This deal brought with it heightened expectations and scrutiny.
- Inconsistency and Criticism: As his form dipped, Özil faced criticism for his perceived lack of effort and inconsistency on the pitch. His high wages became a focal point of discussion, with many questioning whether he was worth the investment.
IV. The Unravelling: From Unai Emery to Mikel Arteta
Özil’s relationship with the club soured further under the management of Unai Emery and later Mikel Arteta.
- Emery’s tenure: Özil often found himself on the fringes of the team under Emery, with the Spanish coach questioning his work rate and tactical suitability. This led to increased tension and speculation about his future at Arsenal.
- Arteta’s arrival: When Mikel Arteta took over as Arsenal’s head coach in December 2019, there was initially a sense of optimism that Özil could rediscover his form. However, after a brief resurgence, Özil was once again left out of the squad and faced an uncertain future.
V. The Final Chapter: A Bitter Departure
The culmination of Özil’s time at Arsenal came when he was excluded from both the Premier League and Europa League squads for the 2020-21 season.
- Omission from squads: Arteta’s decision to leave Özil out of the squads was a clear indication that the playmaker no longer featured in his plans. This exclusion led to further speculation and discontent among fans and pundits.
- Transfer to Fenerbahçe: In January 2021, Özil’s Arsenal career came to an end as he joined Turkish club Fenerbahçe on a free transfer. The move marked a disappointing and unceremonious end to a once-promising partnership between player and club.
Mesut Özil’s time at Arsenal was a tale of two halves, starting with euphoria and ending in disillusionment. From the excitement of his signing and the successes that followed, to the decline in form, tensions with management, and ultimate departure, Özil’s journey at Arsenal was nothing short of dramatic.
While the playmaker’s time in North London had its fair share of ups and downs, there is no denying the impact he had on the club during his prime years. The memories of Özil’s moments of brilliance and his role in the FA Cup triumphs will forever be etched in the minds of Arsenal fans.
As we reflect on Özil’s Arsenal career, it serves as a reminder of the fickle nature of football and the various factors that can influence a player’s success and downfall.
Though his time at the club ended on a sour note, Mesut Özil’s talent and contributions to Arsenal Football Club will always be remembered.