Mesut Özil earns $28.7 million a year, with $23.2 million coming from his salary and
bonuses. This makes him the seventh most well paid footballer in the world according to UK betting website Findbettingsites.co.uk, and logically he should be in the top performers in the world but even his most ardent fans can not argue that he has been since his transfer to Arsenal.
It is undeniable that he has incredibly talented, has some of the best vision of any player in history and is capable of extraordinary things but that has not been clear in the past few seasons for the London club.
Arsenal fans find him the most frustrating player at the club, and he has not even made an appearance since lockdown, not even on the bench despite no serious injury concern. In the new system Arteta is employing, it is difficult to see where he can fit into the team, as he is not an out and out central midfielder.
He comes across as very nonchalant on the pitch and pundits often criticise him for being lazy, but it is deceptive because he covers a lot of ground, constantly looking for the ball and space.
His stats are not the best but are still decent, with 33 goals and 54 assists in 184 games, but it is difficult to judge him on this because he is a player who excels when playing with other top quality players. In the seasons when Arsenal played Olivier Giroud, a target man with little mobility, up front on his own, it makes Özil’s job as a creator a lot trickier.
In terms of chances created, he is very good, consistently being one of the best across Europe’s top five league. Statistics can be used to justify many different positions however, to either support Özil or to discredit him. One of the reasons he is so divisive is that he has so little consistency, influencing some games massively and completely disappearing in others.
For example, during the 2014 World Cup, Özil’s statistics were poor with just two shots on target and one assist, but he was instrumental in moving the German team into the final third, and his team mates would back him up because they recognise his importance.
That is what Arsenal pay so much for, his potential to make a team so fluid and perform much better, but recently he just has not been able to fulfil this potential. Having now retired from international football, he only has club football to concentrate on and yet still is left out of match day squads consistently.
The Previous Year
Over the last year, he has most certainly not deserved his annual salary, with 1 goal and 2 assists over 18 appearances compared to a player like Kevin De Bruyne, who sometimes carries his Manchester City teammates, who are considerably better than the Arsenal players, by the scruff of their neck to victory. The Belgian has 10 goals and 16 assists this season, stats that take Özil three seasons to achieve.
Interestingly, the Belgian is not near the top fourteen earners in football, and not even in the top twenty, despite many thinking he is the world’s best midfielder. The top earners seem to fall into three categories. The first category is the elite, the best of the best who deserve to be paid the most, like Ronaldo and Messi. Secondly, we have the players who play in lucrative leagues like Iniesta in Japan and Oscar in China.
The third category, Özil belongs to, and it is the players with the most potential but who are not currently fulfilling it. Similarly to Özil, it is difficult to justify Sanchez’s and De Gea’s salary at United, considering one player is on loan at Inter Milan, and the other is making more and more mistakes in important games.
It is not just them, with Griezmann disappointing so far at Barcelona and Bale being a bench warmer at Real Madrid, showing contempt to his club again and again. Fans of both clubs are frustrated by the wages that these players are paid.
It is fascinating to consider that Özil’s salary seems ridiculous when you consider it on its own, but when comparing it to other players in the top 14, it makes more sense because there are four or five players in the exact same situation. In fact, it seems that clubs will pay extortionate amounts to attract players with the most potential but there is no guarantee of performance. Perhaps the players are satisfied with their wage and do not feel the need to perform as much. This has certainly been the case in the past with world class players such as Guti and Wesley Sneijder, and maybe these salaries are counter productive for the clubs paying them.