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The Ozil culture war | What is his Arsenal legacy?

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

22:14 18 Jan 2021


As Mesut Ozil leaves Arsenal to join Fenerbahce, we discuss the 'culture war' that he caused at the club.

Ozil leaves London with a curious reputation, for a man whose signing seemed to herald a new era for Arsenal in 2013.

Having been awarded a new contract in 2018, following protracted negotiations, Arsenal fans scarcely saw the German's best form.

The Independent's Miguel Delaney discussed on Monday's Football Show.

We had Ozil

"A lot of people focus on his tweet about the Uighur Muslims [in December 2019], but the reality is that there were already issues with managers before that," Delaney said.

"Wenger instantly regretted giving him that contract in 2018, it went against his instincts and Ozil's performances dropped off.

"Ten or eleven months later, Unai Emery was facing the same questions that Arteta has been about dropping Ozil. Even after that tweet, Arteta did play him for a while.

"Where the final call came was during lockdown. Arteta and the coaching staff were already put out by Ozil's demeanour and conduct.

"Then there was the issue of taking a pay cut, where Ozil has been vindicated because Arsenal ended up making 55 redundancies.

"But one story I have heard from two different people was that Arteta was thinking about putting Ozil back into the team around October, but [...] [Ozil] had a kind of 'I told you so' attitude around the pay cut thing."

Influence

Delaney believes that Arteta's desire to have total buy-in from the players to his project led to Ozil being left out of the Premier League squad late last year.

"There was one story where when he would pass in training or matches, he would screw the pass so it would be almost more difficult for the player he was passing to.

"Not for any reason, but he just wanted to do it - senior players would get irritated by that."

Legacy

Will he be missed?

"The younger players all absolutely love him, they see him as a hero and he is very good with him. That is just one of few divisions of opinion on Ozil.

"He has basically caused a culture war in the Arsenal fanbase, some of which involved comparisons to Bergkamp.

"From 2013 to around 2016, when he broke the record for assists in a single season, there was a discussion over whether Ozil was better than Bergkamp.

"But I think that now, as he leaves, that sounds a bit laughable. He is just not on Bergkamp's level in terms of his historic contribution to the club.

"The overall sense is one of wasteful drift. One of the most entertaining players in the league who never fulfilled the way he should have."

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