(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
It’s official. Mesut Ozil has left Arsenal Football Club. After eight years in North London, the German has taken the next step in his career by joining Fenerbahce on a permanent deal, after agreeing to terminate his Arsenal contract with six months remaining. The playmaker grew up with a Turkish family who have been devoted fans of his new club for many years. Ozil has finally been able to fulfil his mother’s wish to wear the blue and yellow stripes. Here’s a brief overview of Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal career, and the legacy he built at our club…
The incredible scenes which occurred when Arsenal first announced the signing of Mesut Ozil are known not only by our own fans, but supporters of the sport all round the globe. Pure pandemonium. The joy and reception from Arsenal fans for this acquisition were far greater than any other. The Deadline Day announcement that the greatest attacking midfielder on the planet was becoming a Gooner.
Ozil joined Arsenal on the second of September 2013, and his impact was instant. The playmaker, who became the most expensive German player of all time with his move to Arsenal, was assigned the number 11 shirt- and was simply slotted in behind the front three, in Wenger’s notorious 4-2-3-1 formation. Against Sunderland on his debut, it took Ozil just 11 minutes to claim his first assist for Arsenal, and he ended his first season in red and white with 7 goals and 14 assists in just 39 appearances… whilst being a key component to ending Arsenal’s trophy drought. Ozil won the FA Cup within his first year at Arsenal- a competition he would go on to win on three more occasions at the club. He ended his first season at Arsenal successfully- and was widely viewed as one of the world’s elite players at this time.
The 2014/15 season couldn’t have got off to a better start for Mesut Ozil. He returned to Arsenal in mid-August, after playing an influential part in Germany’s World Cup triumph. The arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona saw the start of an iconic duo between the pair, that developed over the coming seasons. Ozil ended the season with 9 assists, 5 goals and back-to-back FA Cup victories, become a fan favourite due to his tricky skill, excellent passing range and top-notch creativity.
Mesut Ozil’s greatest season in an Arsenal shirt came in 2015/16. The German set a Premier League record for being the only player to claim an assist in seven consecutive league matches. He ended the season just one assist short of Thierry Henry’s ‘most assists in one Premier League season’ record- making 19, whilst also scoring 6 goals in 35 appearances domestically. With the help of Mesut, Arsenal finished the league in second place, behind Leicester City, thanks to some classic Sp*rs bottling on the final day. Many Arsenal fans feel angry that, in a season where both Alexis and Ozil showed how good they were, we did not win the league. The Arsenal frontline seemingly lost all finishing ability towards the latter stages of the season, robbing the German of the assist record… and maybe even a Premier League trophy. He won Arsenal Player of the Season, and Premier League top assistor in the 2015/16 season.
2016/17 was yet another successful season for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal. Despite not quite reaching the insane numbers he set the season before, he still managed to rack up an impressive 12 goals and 14 assists in 44 appearances. On October 19th 2016, Arsenal played Ludogorets in the Champions League. Despite going 2-0 down within 15 minutes, we came back to win the game 3-2, with Mesut Ozil scoring arguably his most iconic goal in an Arsenal shirt. The German elegantly took the ball over the goalkeeper and round two defenders before slotting it in the bottom corner of the goal. Simply sensational. He won the Arsenal Goal of the Season with this effort.
In the 2017/18 season, Mesut Ozil signed his famous three-year contract extension, to tie him to the club until 2021. The player’s wage increased to an eye-watering £350,000 per week- which has been the spearpoint of much of his criticism ever since. In term of statistical output, Ozil ended the season with 5 goals and 14 assists in 35 appearances- a respectable tally. Mesut Ozil scored another of his most respected Arsenal goals this year. On the 22nd of December 2017, the playmaker employed his unique technique of chipping the ball over the goalkeeper by hitting it against the ground to put Arsenal 3-2 up against Liverpool. The season ended with the departure of Arsene Wenger, the man who not only brought Mesut Ozil to London, but gave him the freedom, minutes and system in which he could thrive as a player. Both the player and manager have only spoken highly of each other since. He really was “Arsene Wenger’s man”.
There is very little I would like to address from the 2018/19 season onward, as it is widely understood by football fans that this is the time period where it began to go wrong for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal. Due to a culmination of reasons (reoccurring back injuries, publicly being dropped on several occasions and overall a bad relationship with the manager), Mesut Ozil was not able to replicate his production that had been show in previous seasons. Despite being named as one of the Arsenal vice captains and claiming the number 10 shirt following Jack Wilshere’s departure, Ozil recorded his worst season in an Arsenal shirt at the time, with just 6 goals and 3 assists all season.
Things did not get a great deal better for Mesut Ozil in the 2019/20 season. After displaying his distaste for Unai Emery following the horrible 4-1 Europa League final defeat against Chelsea, the poor relationship between Emery and Ozil continued to exacerbate. Mikel Arteta’s arrival in December replenished hope for a revival of the German, and this was seen in the months leading up to lockdown, where he started a run of ten games following his former teammate’s appointment. However, after the restart of the Premier League following its temporary stand-still in the Covid-19 pandemic, Mesut Ozil did not make a single appearance for the rest of the season.
Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal career has fallen off so sharply that, for this 2021/21 season, he was not even registered for the competition squads. He has made a total of zero minutes this season and with that number set to stay the same, the player’s agents and Arsenal’s representatives have reached a deal to terminate his contract, which was set to expire this summer.
And that, it seems, is that. After eight years, the majority of which were successful for him as an individual and the team as a whole, Mesut Ozil will now open the next chapter of his career in Turkey. A servant to the club. One who’s prime will never be forgotten by Arsenal fans. The greatest creative midfielder of the Premier League era. An Arsenal legend? That’s a debate for another day. One of the best Arsenal players in the last decade? Undisputedly.
Mesut Ozil was, and is, not only an incredible footballer- but an incredible human being. Eight years he gave to this club and, regardless what you think of him now, it is undeniable that he is one, if not the, greatest players to put on the Arsenal shirt in the Emirates Era. It seems only fitting to end this off by saying…
Thank you, Mesut Ozil. Best of wishes for your future ahead, both in Turkey and beyond that. #YaGunnersYa.
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