Having been away for a while and not having ample time to write, I
felt obliged to throw my hat into the ring – regarding the transfer of Mesut
Özil to Arsenal. I see this as more than just a signing.
I see it as a
symbol for an ernest approach in the rather corrupt world of modern football
and also a symbol for the start of what I believe will be Arsenal’s rebirth as
one of the best football clubs in the world.
(including myself) couldn’t believe what they were seeing when Arsenal
officially announced the signing of the German superstar Mesut Özil for a club
record fee of £42.5m. After a summer of rejected bids and underwhelming free
transfers, Arsenal spending more than both the Manchester clubs have ever spent
on a single player was more than unexpected amongst both the Arsenal fans and
the various football journalists. But this huge fee was not funded by the click
of a sugar daddy’s fingers. No, every single penny that was spent on Özil was
earned by the football club. It was a statement to the rest of the footballing
world that it is indeed possible to compete for the world’s best players
without having a seemingly limitless cash flow from a über-rich owner (yes,
that may have been an excuse to use an umlaut). The Arsenal have always been
proud of having their own way of doing things both on and off the pitch and the
Arsenal approach to business and funding seems to finally be bearing the long
promised (and awaited for) fruits.
admirable way that Arsenal have gone about making, and more recently spending,
money is the player they chose to recruit. Not only is Özil a world class
playmaker who would add huge amounts of quality to any side, but he is also a
hugely popular, respected and marketable player. It is arguable that the
combination of his ability, huge following, charitable values, work ethic and
commercial appeal make him the ideal signing to kick off Arsenal’s attempt to
return to the summit of English and European football, especially regarding the
way that Arsenal want to do it. As much as some fans dislike it, the fact is
that Arsenal rely heavily on sponsors and commercial income as a way of funding
their projected expenditure. This means that the club has to make itself as
appealing as possible as a, dare I say it, ‘brand’. A player like Özil, with
all the aforementioned features, is the perfect kind for a club in pursuit of
‘super’ status, both on the field and off it.
Although this route
that Arsenal are taking may make them appear to some as sell-outs, the fact is
that football as an industry is moving in a certain direction (and moving very
fast too). Arsenal are adapting to the climate they find themselves in and
although it may take a little longer going about it this way, there is an
overwhelming sense of righteousness (in the least arrogant way possible)
with regard to how Arsenal are doing things. Now that the club have made a
statement of intent (signing Özil), more fans may be willing to buy into Arsenal’s
off-the-pitch philosophy. I believe that this philosophy is only very effective
in action when support from the fan base is at its optimum level. The club
relies upon fans staying fans, people becoming fans and fans spending money on
the club they love.
So, can Mesut Özil
become the poster boy for Arsenal’s rebirth? Well, there’s a way to go yet, but
off the pitch he certainly can. An indicator that his popularity is on an
unprecedented scale is his shirt sales. They outstrip Gareth Bale’s at Real Madrid
Özil’s faith is
also an interesting factor to consider when talking about his marketability. As
a Muslim, he appeals to a large proportion of both his fatherland (Turkey) and
other areas within the Middle East. As football is a rapidly growing industry in
these areas, Özil’s popularity could kick start an Arsenal expansion into what
is becoming a land of opportunity. We all know Arsenal value their global
appeal and resulting support and plan to continue building upon this. If you
look at the top footballing brands such as Manchester United and Real Madrid,
they have fans from all corners of the globe and their merchandise is bought on
a huge scale in multiple continents. If Arsenal wish to get close to the ‘super
club’ status then they must improve an already impressive global outreach and
Özil may hold the key to a previously untapped market.
On the pitch,
however, it is arguable that Arsenal’s squad depth is still not what it should
be, having been cut short by the summer clear out. Although, despite lowering
numbers, this clear out hasn’t necessarily dilapidated the squad as most of the
players who were shifted didn’t even feature a notable amount last season.
Moreover, this has
given promising youngsters (e.g. Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem) more opportunity
to get game time and prove their worth to Arsène Wenger and his coaching team.
Because it is not ideal to be relying on inexperienced kids as back-up options,
the addition of Mathieu Flamini and retention of players such as Tomas Rosicky
and Thomas Vermaelen may prove to be very important indeed (if they can stay
fit!). Özil won’t save or propel Arsenal single-handedly, others will have to
step up and perform. But with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny
entering the form of their life and Olivier Giroud scoring for fun in pre-season
and the first few games of the campaign, the added quality of a world class
star may just tip the balance in Arsenal’s favour.
Success is long
overdue at Arsenal, but hopefully this season can be the start and ONLY the
start. If you have time please enjoy this superb video that goes back to the very beginning.
Credit to ScoutReport_TV for the above video.
Thanks for reading,