There is very little room for nuance in the discourse around modern football. Nowhere has that become more apparent than in the recent debate over Mesut Ozil’s career at Arsenal.
The German is either a spirited martyr in exile for ‘non-footballing reasons’ or a financial albatross around the necks of the Gunners as they seek to move on from the Arsene Wenger era.
The reality is of course somewhere in between.
You can’t talk about Ozil’s time in north London without mentioning the good times. Four FA Cups, 77 assists and numerous occasions where camera lenses simply weren’t wide enough to match his creative genius.
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But at the same time it would be disingenuous to imply that he has played no part in the messy way in which things have ended. Conveniently timed ‘illnesses’ and a PR war against the club on social media have soured his legacy among those within the club and many outside it.
Football moves fast though and as Ozil looks set to confirm his move to Fenerbahce in the coming days, the reality is that he is now Arsenal’s past at a time when they are building for the future.
His downfall under Mikel Arteta, who left him out of the Gunners’ Premier League and Europa League squad, following a period of post-project restart exile, stems not from the quality of the player. That has never been in question. Ozil’s issue has been one of attitude.
From the very beginning of his reign at the Emirates, Arteta set out his stall in stating that he wanted each and every member of his Arsenal squad to live by a certain code.
Mesut Ozil has been exiled from the Arsenal squad under Mikel Arteta
(Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
“There are some non-negotiables,” he said. “The demands we put on the team, the commitment, the energy we put in, that dominance.”
Ozil was given a chance to comply with new rule…