Should we be surprised (or upset) if Ozil and Sanchez don’t renew their contracts?
I don’t think so. And here’s why…
Traditionally, players signed for Arsenal because it was a step up for them. Or because they held a lifelong dream to play for the Gunners. Neither is the case for our two want-away stars.
Ozil was made redundant when Bale joined Real Madrid. Arsenal were merely in the
desperate fortunate position to have the kind of money that Madrid demanded for their goggle-eyed playmaker so late in the season. And Wenger’s 2013 Arsenal still had some sparkle – the toxicity and stagnancy that has tainted the club of late hadn’t really taken hold…
Sure – for those who regard Wenger as a sacred cow, I’m sure there was some work still to be done in dragging the deal over the finish line, and apparently playing under Wenger held some appeal to Mesut. And credit to Dick Law for actually managing to get something done under pressure. But – let’s face it, we were just lucky enough to catch the bride’s böuquet as Real Madrid flung it over her head.
(Side note: I was rather hoping that we would re-sign Cesc Fabregas. A player with Arsenal in his veins. Tried and tested. And who had gotten the Barca poison out of his system. It wasn’t a popular opinion then, and it probably isn’t now, since he has been winning the trophies for Chelsea that he didn’t win with us.
But that’s another story altogether.
Whether Ozil has been a success for Arsenal is still fiercely debated. I’m firmly in the camp that he is a luxury we neither need, nor can afford: like having champagne in your camel-pack and a mountain to climb…)
Likewise – Suarez biting his way to the top meant the displacement of one Señor Sanchez, Alexis. And Arsenal, forever on the lookout for a bargain – and with money to burn – seized the moment to complete their second opportunistic star-signing in as many years.
So much has changed in football since then. With the Premier League flashing her expensive (under)wares to all and sundry, it was inevitable that management’s greatest gigolos would come calling… Messrs. Guardiola and Mourinho (and Klopp, and Conte) found her honeypot too appealing and wended their merry ways to her fecund pastures.
Which is great news for Sanchez and Ozil… With zero likelihood of either player climbing back up the ladder to football’s two top clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, they are now presented with the next-best-thing: to join up with their dream daddies at the two rich Manchesters: City and United. And get massive paychecks for the twilight years of their careers.
I have nothing against them not re-signing. To be honest, in their position I probably wouldn’t.
There is much to like at Arsenal: the class (cushiness), the location, the illusion (delusion) of being a big, important club. But there is a lot NOT to like either: the lack of ambition displayed by absentee owner Stan Kroenke, the confoundedness of Arsene Wenger – a dog who seems to have had more than his day, the disgruntled and hostile fanbase, the uncertainty surrounding the futures of Arsenal’s top players… I could go on, but I won’t.
For Ozil and Alexis, whose HEARTS were never really in it – let’s face it: there are no pictures circling the web which show either as cute 5-year-olds in Arsenal shirts, or with posters of Bergkamp above their childhood beds – this was just a JOB. Arsenal offered a luxurious parachute to bale them out of what must have been devastating situation: being rejected by their REAL dream-clubs…
Sure – they won a couple of trophies with us, got the star treatment at Europe’s top tables, got decent enough salaries (decent at the time, anyway), and got on the team-sheet week-in or week-out (whether they deserved it or not). Their time at Arsenal has been easy. Nicking a living? Maybe that’s taking it a bit far…
Alexis and Mesut have honoured their contracts. And neither has exhibited unsavory van-Persie-like behaviour. (No “Dear Guys” letters manoeuvering for an exit.) They are merely looking, as you or I would, to grab as much cash as they can in what may be their final contracts. With an added Bosman bonus.
The truth hurts – but it would be best if, as Gooners, we just accepted it and moved on:
Ozil and Sanchez don’t love Arsenal. They never did. And we got the best we could out of them while they were with us, but now it’s time for them to move on.
We may not be better off without them – but I would prefer to see players at the Club who are proud of the badge on their chest, who know what it means to play for England’s greatest club. Players who deserve to wear the same shirt that Rocky wore, Wrighty, Henry, Bergkamp, Adams, Brady, Bastin…
… and all the other magnificent footballers who have showed passion for the cannon in the past 131 years.
So – Mesut and Alexis:
Thanks for the memories. It’s been real.
See ya. (Ya Mesut Ya).
Paul Hepker (aka invinciblog/batmandela) recently returned to South Africa after a 16-year stint in Hollywood, where he plied his trade as a film and TV composer. He adopted Arsenal in the mid-80′s, and if it doesn’t start behaving soon he’s going to send it to boarding school.
As an ardent Gunner propagandist – he has contributed a number of tongue-in-cheeky images to the Goonerverse – one of which is bound to get him into trouble at some point.