Perceptions can change as time goes by. What we may think today may not be the same tomorrow. As individuals we are bound to learn from our past experiences and we may end up with a different point of view on that particular subject. Football is no different and there are teams, players and managers that are viewed differently as time goes by. And there is a huge temptation to do that with Arsenal’s latest player to leave, Mesut Ozil.
When Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil back in 2013, it was viewed as a statement of ambition and, to be fair, there was a lot of logic to that. The German international had been one of Real Madrid’s best players in the last three seasons and had amassed a ridiculous amount of assists, so for Arsene Wenger to get such a signing, it was something that could get Arsenal fans understandably excited. Almost eight years later, Mesut Ozil has left the club and things have been done in a very controversial and negative manner, with the German being left out of the squad in the last six months and being under a lot of criticism by a section of the Arsenal faithful. Add to that the overall negative environment in the dressing room in Mikel Arteta’s reign and you have a very sad sendoff for a talent of Ozil’s quality.
Assessing Ozil’s legacy at the Emirates Stadium is a bit more complex. While his numbers have been good and there’s no way we can say he didn’t deliver at the club, it is tempting to say that the former Real Madrid man is a good representation of the Gunners during the time at the Emirates: a lot of talent, but falling short in the key moments that separate winners from underachievers. But it is interesting to see how Ozil started extremely well in his first three seasons at the club, even finishing second in the 2015/16 season, but as Mesut Ozil declined in performance, the Arsenal did it as well. And when Arsene Wenger got all the blame for it, neither Unai Emery or Mikel Arteta managed to fix the situation as well.
While it is true that Ozil has a very justifiable reputation as a player that can blow hot and cold, the reality is that Arsenal stopped being a top-class football club a long time ago. No top-class player can carry a whole club to win the UEFA Champions League or the English Premier League and the Gunners needed a bit more than just a world class playmaker. Mesut Ozil has a lot of blame for things he did and didn’t do, but his legacy should be viewed as positive because he left a lot of good memories. And above all, his legacy should be that Arsenal needs to get their act together and build a platform to get the most out of their best players, which they didn’t with Mesut Ozil.