Mesut Ozil penned a bumper new contract which sees him continue his career at the Emirates until 2021, earning a whopping £350,000 a week in wages. With the German staying put and Alexis Sanchez leaving when times are difficult at the club, does this move make him a legend?
During the much-publicised departure of Alexis Sanchez, there was one ailing, pertinent question: Would Mesut Ozil would follow in the Chilean’s footsteps or would he remain at the club? On January 31st, 2018, we got our answer, perhaps a little surprisingly.
Ozil signed a brand new contract which would see him remain at the Emirates until 2021, receiving a significant wage increase which makes him the highest earner in the club’s history, raking in a staggering £350,000 a week.
More from Pain in the Arsenal
Whilst Alexis was still at Arsenal, many believed that he and Ozil were the only two world-class talents in the squad. With one of them departing during the January transfer window to direct rivals Manchester United, the other stayed despite constant criticism of his attitude and ability. In doing so, did he warrant himself the label of ‘legend’?
Apart from the fact that Ozil is one of the world’s most talented playmakers and claimed by many as arguably the best number 10 in the world, including his own new teammate Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ozil will be earning his legend status in a different manner to that of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. His ‘legend’ status, which is already in progress, was strengthened by his loyalty, as well as his talent.
It was founded by his arrival at the club five years ago, ending a nine-year trophy drought with a successful FA Cup campaign. It was built on through his partnership with Sanchez, his inordinate creative abilities, and his calming, controlling influence at the heart of the Arsenal midfield.
But this latest development is a testament to his character, not just his quality. Albeit on £350,000 a week, Ozil turned down a move to Bayern Munich, Barcelona and most notably Manchester United to stay with the Gunners, all at a time when Arsenal are having major internal issues, sitting eight points adrift of the top four, having one of the worst ever domestic seasons ever under Arsene Wenger, and playing in the Europa League. Nobody would have been surprised if the German wanted to move away from the toxic atmosphere of the club at this present time.
His choice to stay and fight to make it right is very much a respectable trait., and while it is perhaps a little rash to state that Ozil is already a future legend, it is undeniable that he is building his status by his rapport with the club and fans.
Sanchez departing definitely made Ozil’s stay at the club much sweeter. It is one of the first times in recent years that one of the better players opted to stay when bigger, more financially attractive teams came calling.
Perhaps the only dent in Ozil’s recognition is the clear and painful absence of a league title. Will this put players such as Bergkamp, Henry and Vieira at a higher standing to Ozil because they led the team to multiple league titles? It is certainly a fair argument.
But with three-and-a-half more years at the club, and playing alongside Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang and Lacazette, I still believe that he can still achieve great things at the Emirates and add to his legendary prestige.