On transfer deadline day of 2013, Arsenal made a real statement of intent by signing one of the most highly rated attacking midfielders in the world, Mesut Ozil.
At the time, manager Arsene Wenger smashed the clubs record transfer fee to bring him to the club in a £42.5 million deal, which sparked scenes of jubilation amongst the fanbase.
Having come off the back of 73 goal involvements in 105 games for Real Madrid, with Cristiano Ronaldo publicly expressing his anger at the club for letting Ozil go, it was safe to say that expectations were massive.
It was a signing that broke the mould and traditions of the club to an extent, as Wenger’s philosophy had always been to bring players in with promising potential and mould them into superstars.
Also, the fact that he was attracted to the prospect of playing in England and had committed his prime years to the club, having signed a 5-year-deal at the age of 24 earmarked the start of a new era.
Not only did it appear to be a step in the right direction to end our trophy drought, but the first piece in the puzzle to justify Arsenal’s move to the Emirates in order to complete with the elite clubs in the world.
However, almost eight years later he found himself frozen out of the squad, having not played a competitive game in 10 months, with no option but to leave in order to revive his career.
As his pending transfer to boyhood club Fenerbahce draws closer, one aspect of his time at Arsenal that will always divide opinion is the legacy that he left behind.
When he first arrived, his impact on the team was notable as his fluid and creative output seemed to suit Wenger’s free-flowing style, capping off an impressive debut with an assist away at Sunderland.
He went onto contribute seven goals and 14 assists in 42 appearances in all competitions that season, as the Gunners finished in 4th and broke their nine-year trophyless run by beating Hull City in the FA Cup Final.
Just weeks after, Ozil’s superstar status at international level was secured when he played a starring role for the German national team in their World Cup triumph in Brazil.
This achievement was undoubtedly the pinnacle of his career, however some would argue that it came as a detriment to his time at Arsenal, due to the added pressure on him to produce the same level of consistency.
Heading into his third season at the club, Ozil certainly had a point to prove, as stigma was starting to grow around him being a ‘luxury’ player – with his lazy running style attracting criticism from pundits and fans across the country.
Arsenal started the campaign very strongly and with other top teams struggling, fans were beginning to believe that he could fire us to our first title in 10-years.
Thriving in his natural position, he went into the second half of the season on 16 assists, just four behind Thierry Henry’s record.
Unfortunately, Arsenal and Ozil fell short as they missed out on the league title to Leicester and the German playmaker was unable to break the record, having registered three assists after Christmas.
Despite his chance creation not dropping towards the end of the campaign, but his assists did significantly, it sparked the theory that Ozil hadn’t been given the tools to win major trophies with the club.
As a result of Giroud going on a 15-game goalless run, fans couldn’t help but speculate whether a world-class striker in-front of him would have been enough to get Arsenal over the line.
From this point onwards, his time at Arsenal was littered with ups and downs, from producing moments of pure genius such as his goal against Ludogorets in the Champions League to being dropped by three different managers after Wenger’s departure.
There is no denying that on his day, Ozil is simply unplayable, however in the period of his playing days which should have been considered his prime it appeared that his focus wasn’t always on football.
His domestic decline coincided with the sour ending to his international career, as he was scapegoated for Germany’s poor showing at the 2018 World Cup, with the holders being knocked out in the group stages.
Subsequent to the tournament, Ozil felt that he was subject to racial abuse from his own fans and claimed that people only saw him as German when they won, but Turkish when they lost.
This experience could be seen as the turning point, as since his passion for the game looks to have been sucked out of him, along with his political views becoming more apparent and open.
It also draws speculation to the theory that current manager, Mikel Arteta, froze him out of the squad due to comment he made in regard to Uighurs in China.
The nature of the conclusion to his time at Arsenal, only adds fuel to the idea that it perhaps his exclusion wasn’t solely down to the fact that he wasn’t able to contribute to the team in a footballing sense, with the Gunners distinct lack of creativity prevalent throughout the season.
However, in the eyes of many fans Ozil doesn’t reach the requirements to be classed as a legend, whether that’s entirely his fault or not.
Undoubtedly, there were some brilliant moments for the German in an Arsenal shirt, such as playing a key role in ending our trophy drought and providing the fans with individual pieces of genius.
Couple that with the impressive record of 44 goals and 77 assists in 254 games, the manner in which he is leaving is difficult to watch, as he deserved to say goodbye to the fans properly.
Nevertheless, ending his time at the club with just four FA Cups is somewhat underwhelming considering the expectations we all had when he signed, as we believed he would take our club to the next level.
In order to have a lasting legacy at a club with the stature of Arsenal you have to win at least one major trophy, such as a League title or European trophy – therefore in my opinion he cannot be classed as a legend.
I’m a 20 year-old Arsenal fanatic and aspiring Sports Journalist, who will be studying how to write about the Beautiful Game at Solent University from September in an attempt to make my dream into a reality.
Since the age of 8 I have played academy football, but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out – therefore I decided to pursue the next best career for me.
I am aiming to write honest and interesting articles about the club I love, and to share my opinion (one from the younger generation of Arsenal supporters) with as many other fans as possible!