In typical Arsenal style, deadlines came and went. There was news from Germany that an announcement would be made at 4.30. Then Sky said it would be 6pm. Time passed. Slowly.
In the end it was close to 10.30 – just 30 minutes from the close of a window that had been open all summer – when Arsenal announced a signing that should have every Gooner thoroughly excited today. Mesut Özil is an Arsenal player. The club’s transfer record hasn’t so much been broken as smashed into thousands of tiny pieces. We’ll pay Real Madrid £42.5m for the German international, and there’s no doubt it’s a game changer for the club.
We’ve tried to do it since the end of last season. We deemed Gonzalo Higuain too expensive when Madrid pushed up the price when Napoli got involved. We seemed willing to pay £40,000,001 for Luis Suarez but no more than that, and there were bids and deals which didn’t come off which would have easily eclipsed our £15m record fee. We wanted to spend the money, but couldn’t.
Yesterday, we’ve pulled off one of the most incredible pieces of business in the club’s history and brought one of the best players in the world to Arsenal Football Club. It’s a signing which makes a statement and should now completely changed the way we operate. We’ve long been known for looking for value, for finding and unearthing gems, for buying low and selling high, but for the first time we’ve bought high. Really high.
As Amy Lawrence points out this morning, it’s similar to when we took Dennis Bergkamp from Inter Milan. That pushed the club in a new direction. An Arsenal that had become staid and boring, even by its own standards, now had one of the most talented players in the world on its books. I don’t think it’s an unfair comparison to make with Özil. In the absence of Cesc, and latterly van Persie, there’s been a definite absence of wow factor from the team.
It has its moments through individuals like Cazorla but we’re functional more than exciting these days. Özil changes that. He’s 24 years of age, with his best years right in front of him, and he’s going to have them at Arsenal. It’s brilliant. Every fan wants to see the top players at their club and make no mistake this is player of genuine class. He scores goals (last season 10 for Madrid, 5 for Germany: the season before 11 for both club and country), and he’s creative too, as the stats flying around this morning tell you. He’ll bring to Arsenal what we’ve been missing since Fabregas left.
@7amkickoff gives you all the Özil stats you need in a By the numbers piece on Arseblog News. The idea of him and Cazorla in the final third, with Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta and Rosicky as options to provide the platform for them to do their stuff is gusset-moistening stuff of the highest order. Yet for all his obvious and notable qualities, he’ll bring something intangible to Arsenal as well.
His talent will obviously be a factor in how teams view us and choose to play against us, but paying this much money for a player – who is absolutely worth every penny that we’ve splashed out, by the way – should shake the club out of the conservative binds that have been holding us back in recent years. It adds a fission of excitement, will help attract better players in the future, puts bums on seats and should be a statement that we are out to compete properly and use the resources we have to make the best team possible.
I’ve doubted our ability to make this kind of signing all summer, so credit to the manager and those around him for making it happen. It’s very much a case of better late than never, and even if this was an opportunity that developed very recently it’s clearly taken a lot to get it over the line. Özil is a player that would grace the best teams in the world. I’m amazed that United weren’t in for him, for example, but even if they had been I think we might have been able to do it. Speaking to the official site, Özil said:
I am thrilled to be joining a club of the stature of Arsenal and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League. It will be great for my own personal development as a player and I am particularly looking forward to working with Arsène Wenger.
He spoke of wanting to feel the 100% faith of a coach, and while he might have got that from United, is David Moyes the kind of manager that the best players in the world really feel drawn towards working with? As a a club they have the stature and importance, but I think they’ve discovered that their new boss still has much to prove to the footballing world after a summer of abject transfer market failure. In the end he had to pull his secondary cord and bring in a player he’d worked with at Everton. There was no Fabregas, no Herrera, no Özil. We’ve done the kind of transfer they’ve done summer after summer when Ferguson was at the helm.
So, it’s an enormous coup for us and the most thrilling piece of business I can remember since Bergkamp. We’ve had good players arrive since then, but nothing has made the kind of statement this transfer has. We’ve been looking for Arsenal to join the big boys for a long time. That time has come, so let’s hope it’s the first of many like this in the future, and not just a one-off.
There is a but though (isn’t there always?!) – as good as he is, I’m still concerned that we weren’t able to bring in a striker and perhaps a defender to give the squad real depth. Özil will be joined by Italian keeper Emiliano Viviano, but efforts to sign Demba Ba from Chelsea proved fruitless. I do have to wonder if he was the best target and if tying ourselves up in a deal with Mourinho was the smartest thing we’ve ever done given the pressing nature of the day in question, but it’s clear Arsenal have wanted a striker all summer and not got one.
I think that Arsene Wenger’s efforts to bring in a star name in that area lessened as the closure of the window approached and he saw Özil as the man on whom he could lavish the big bucks, but that didn’t negate our need for someone else up front as the Ba approach illustrates. With Lukas Podolski out injured it leaves a huge burden on Olivier Giroud, not to mention that it is hugely risky to have just one striker in your squad.
While Yaya Sanogo may have potential it’s obvious he’s a long way from ready for top flight football at this level, so I’m worried than an injury, a suspension, fatigue or a loss of excellent early season form leaves us in something of a fix up front. It sounds an awful thing to have to consider but if it comes right down to it – whilst acknowledging Theo as an option – we may have to resort to Nicklas Bendtner whose move to Crystal Palace was pulled at the last minute when it became clear Chelsea had nixed any deal for Ba.
Hardly ideal, especially when Arsene Wenger revealed at his Friday press conference that the player had had some kind of surgery recently and wouldn’t be fit to play for some time. Maybe this was a factor in why he didn’t move. And look, if it comes down to it, we’re going to have to suck it up and hope he can rediscover some kind of form and motivation for the game of football – and for Arsenal Football Club.
I can’t remember a situation before where a player is so roundly disapproved of, and who so openly doesn’t want to be at the club, but if needs must what choice do we have? Anyway, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. What we have we hold until January now and we can put the lunacy and madness of the window behind us for a few months. If Giroud can keep going, if Sanogo can make quick improvements, and we can get Podolski back sooner rather than later, it won’t seem so bad. Especially when we’ve got the likes of Özil and Cazorla providing the ammunition for those in the forward positions.
Now, we’ve got an Interlull. We’ll do the usual thing of hoping everyone comes back unscathed and it seems a bit unfair that it’ll be two weeks before we see our new number 11 do his stuff in red and white, but there you go.
After a summer of disappointment and disenchantment, it all feels a bit better this morning. The club have put their money where their mouth is and bought one of the most talented players in the world for a record fee. On paper he improves us considerably, I can’t wait to see what he does on the pitch as well.