Mesut Ozil has been the subject of much debate in recent months. The German has been omitted from the match-day squads on numerous occasions since August, featuring just twice this season prior to being reintroduced on Wednesday night up at Anfield. Those in support of the playmaker have been calling for Emery to reinstate him for weeks and his magnificent display has only increased the pressure on the under-fire boss to include him this weekend.
Arsenal handed Ozil a contract extension back in January 2018 shortly after Alexis Sanchez left for Manchester United and, so at the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. Had the Gunners allowed two of their star men to walk away for next to nothing or free, you can bet the fanbase would have gone into complete meltdown.
Were Arsenal right to offer Mesut Ozil £350k per week?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and upon reflection Ozil’s performances, it certainly hasn’t always warranted the astronomical wage he’s being paid. However, it’s not just about what he does on the pitch – at least to the club anyway. Ozil’s commercial presence is huge and it would be naive to think that didn’t play a part in the club offering him such a large contract.
Arsenal have, no doubt, benefitted from the player’s huge influence – the mid-season friendly versus Al-Nasr in Dubai last season was the proof in the pudding. Ozil started the game and his huge following, particularly in the middle-east, contributed largely to a sell-out crowd. The benefits haven’t always been felt on the pitch, but in terms of his commercial value to the club, the playmaker certainly pulls his weight. Last year, the club announced that the player’s shirt sales exceeded those of any other player proving that, at least commercially, there has been some benefit to holding onto him.
Can he still contribute positively on the field?
The 31-year-old showed the Gunners faithful exactly what they’ve been missing up at Anfield on Wednesday night. Vision, guile, composure and class. The team have received widespread criticism for their lacklustre performances in recent weeks with former Arsenal player Paul Merson highlighting a lack of creativity.
Granted, Unai Emery doesn’t always play with a traditional number ten, but the team’s inability to create from central areas has proven to be an ongoing issue. The Spaniard, as recently as last month told the media that Ozil was undeserving of a place but, to put it bluntly, when it comes to creative influences, he’s not exactly spoilt for choice.
Arsenal’s performances of late have been cause for concern and Emery cannot afford to allow his personal grievances with Ozil affect the team. In the German, he has a potential solution to one of his teams biggest issues so to overlook him seems nonsensical. His wages shouldn’t come into the debate because, like it or not, he has a contract until June 2021 – the question is, can he add another dimension to Arsenal’s play and based on Wednesday nights evidence, the answer has to be yes.