Mesut Ozil’s time at Arsenal has been a mixed bag to say the least.
Since arriving in England from Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, Ozil has won three FA Cups with the Gunners and the World Cup with Germany.
For most players, such a record would represent the prime period of a career. But Ozil’s stint at Arsenal has had plenty of lows, too.
Accusations of a non-existent work-rate coupled with inconsistent performances have seen Ozil fall in and out of favour with the club’s fans.
Arsene Wenger tended to stick by the German through difficult periods, but Unai Emery has been less forgiving – Ozil was left out of the last north London derby squad altogether for “tactical” reasons.
And just last month, Emery justified leaving Ozil on the bench at Bournemouth by hinting the 30-year-old wasn’t suitable to face a “very demanding” opponent.
Mesut Özil’s substitution vs. Brighton was the first time he has been replaced at half-time in a Premier League game since joining Arsenal.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2018
With all of that in mind, there is a very real possibility Ozil could depart the Emirates in the near future, despite the fact he signed a bumper new contract as recently as last January.
Reportedly huge wages could put off potential suitors, but there are bound to be clubs keeping an eye on his situation – after all, he still leads his teammates for chances created this season with 23 in the Premier League.
So where could Ozil end up if Arsenal decide to cash in on their cheif creator? Here are some suggestions.
When Real Madrid sold Ozil in September 2013, Cristiano Ronaldo was not best pleased. According to reports in Spain, as relayed by the Independent, Ronaldo told his Portugal teammates: “The sale of Ozil is very bad news for me.
“He was the player who best knew my moves in front of goal… I’m angry about Ozil leaving.”
In the three seasons the duo spent together at the Bernabeu, Ozil provided 27 assists for Ronaldo. Their intuitive on-pitch relationship was there for all to see, but incoming manager Carlo Ancelotti allowed Ozil to leave.
Perhaps a reunion is on the cards. Ozil is yet to play in Italy and would surely jump at the chance to join a club as decorated as Juventus – he would likely struggle to find a suitor with a bigger stature than the Serie A champions. And by the sounds of it, Ozil would be more than happy to reunite with Ronaldo.
“I really enjoyed playing with him because he made me better on the pitch and he’s a great guy off it, too,” Ozil told Arsenal’s official website in September.
“I gave him loads of assists and he doesn’t need me to remind him of that! It was easy to play with him because you didn’t need to create a lot of chances. Even if I just gave him two passes, he would score two goals and that’s why he’s one of the greatest footballers who’s ever lived.”
One potential stumbling block is Paulo Dybala’s presence at the Allianz Stadium. Ozil would face a battle to dislodge the Argentinian’s No. 10 status, both in terms of the role and the shirt number. What’s more, the aforementioned concerns about Ozil’s inconsistency remain. Would Juventus be willing to match his mammoth wages or will there be apprehension on their part?
Regardless, the opportunity to pair up Ronaldo and Ozil might be too good an opportunity for Massimiliano Allegri to turn down, particularly if the club can agree a cut-price fee to offset the salary cost.
Realistic: Inter Milan
Concerns around the drawbacks of signing Ozil will be less of a problem for Inter Milan, a club still attempting to return their glory days – a prestige signing like Ozil would be a huge boost to their reputation.
Reports in Italy claim Inter manager Luciano Spalletti is keen to sign Ozil in January to boost the team’s chances of returning the Champions League next season.
Perhaps a loan move would make sense for all parties. Inter would be signing a high-quality playmaker, Ozil could test himself in Serie A to see if it suits him, and Arsenal could lower their wage bill while removing a player Emery clearly isn’t totally happy with.
On top of that, he wouldn’t be cup-tied for the knockout stages of the Europa League, due to the regulations put in place for this season.
Inter would be thankful for the added creativity, too, and Ozil would move to the San Siro in the knowledge he has a clinical striker to link up with the in the shape of Mauro Icardi.
Once again, Ozil’s wages will come into the conversation. Inter would likely try to pay only a percentage of his salary instead of the full package. Think of it as a trial period ahead of a potential permanent deal at the end of the season.
But if Ozil really impressed for Inter, Juventus might emerge as contenders for his signature next summer.
Wildcard: Manchester United
Manchester United were linked with a move for Ozil a number of times during Jose Mourinho’s tenure, the reason being Ozil played his best football for Real Madrid under the Portuguese coach.
The Red Devils lacked creativity under Mourinho, particular this season; United have scored 29 Premier League goals this term, fewer than the rest of the ‘big six’.
Mourinho’s inability to produce flowing, attacking football – coupled with some dreadful results – ultimately led to his sacking.
It would be typical, then, for United to pursue a creative playmaker in the transfer window immediately after Mourinho’s exit. But is it really that much of a push to suggest Ozil could be playing at Old Trafford in 2019?
Well, yes and no. Despite his struggles to break into the Arsenal team, the Gunners would still see allowing Ozil to join United as strengthening one of their rivals for a place in the top four, something they would be foolish to let happen.
On the other hand, if Ozil wants to stay in the Premier League and demands a transfer in January, Arsenal will surely be tempted to get him off the wage bill.
It’s certainly more unlikely than it is likely – particularly following Mourinho’s departure – but it’s an enticing prospect all the same.
Squawka Suggests: Istanbul Basaksehir
A number of top players have moved to Turkey in their twilight years. Indeed, a transfer to the Super Lig is often the sign of a career winding down. Ozil may not want to feed into that perception just yet, but at 30 years of age, perhaps that is the way of things.
The former Schalke and Werder Bremen midfielder has even been identified as a dream target by current league leaders, Istanbul Basaksehir.
“Mesut Ozil is a precious player,” the club president Goksel Gumusdag said.
“I hope one day our paths will cross at Basaksehir. If he wants to be with us as well, we would do anything to get him.”
Almost two years later, a return to the birth-country of his parents makes more sense now than it ever has. He has retired from international football, meaning he no longer has to impress Joachim Low by playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
The recent signing of Robinho, who had scored eight goals and provided four assists for rivals Sivasspor, signals the intent of the club. Former Arsenal stars Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy are also at the club.
Currently six points clear, Istanbul Basaksehir are perhaps more likely to play in the Champions League next season than Ozil’s current club. Joining them in January would likely see the No.10 pick up the second league winners’ medal of his career and be idolised by the supporters.
Having already won the World Cup and seemingly not being given a consistent chance to prove his talent under Emery, perhaps this is the ideal next step.