Arsenal’s search for a Mesut Ozil replacement has taken them (back) to Hakan Calhanoglu. It may not rock your socks off, but it makes a lot of little sense.
A couple days ago, I very distinctly said that Arsenal don’t need anything even remotely resembling “another Mesut Ozil.” So it may seem odd that I’m about to come in here and advocate for a guy that wanted to be the Turkish National team’s version of Mesut Ozil—Hakan Calhanoglu.
But I am. So get used to it.
Often compared to Ozil for the good ways at the bad, Calhanoglu is inconsistent, often criticized for a lack of effort, not that fast and 26-years-old, which is older even than when Ozil joined us. the Turk has been suiting up at AC Milan this year, playing both winger and attacking midfield.
Now that I got the negatives out of the way, let’s talk positive. Calhanoglu brings a lot of the same strengths that Ozil brings. The vision, the creativity, the intelligent eye for breaking down defenses.
But unlike Ozil, Calhanoglu has played more than just the No. 10 role and he has played alternate roles effectively. He has played a deeper playmaker role, he has played on the wings, and he has shown that effort isn’t foreign to him.
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Both Unai Emery and now Mikel Arteta have tried to get Ozil to get more comfortable with doing more. But having played the game one way for so long, it’s hard to convince him to change. Even if he wanted to, it’s near impossible.
It wouldn’t be asking that much from Calhanoglu. He’s already done it. And under the right management style, with the right supporting cast, it wouldn’t be hard to get him to do it again, presumably. Especially if the Turkish creator really wants to get his footballing career back on the right path.
The fact that he can play across the midfield is such a perk, even if it seems small. And that’s what makes this move make sense. It doesn’t make one big sense, like “oh, he’s a goal scorer, that’s what we need.” It makes a whole lot of little senses: He’s versatile, creative, can play deeper, can play forward, can play wide, has fallen out of favor, could be bought for cheap, plays for Gazidis’ AC Milan, so on and so forth.
Add all those little senses together and you should find that it works just as well as one big sense.