Guest post by Varun Shukla (@WengerArmy)
Excerpt from a newspaper advertisement “…the neocortex is a part of the cerebral hemisphere-its outer layer. It is responsible for logical and specific reasoning. This is an appeal to the masses to donate funds for the replacement of Florentio Perez- our supreme leader and messiah’s neocortex. Healthy donations would entitle you to a signed Bale 11 shirt
-sincerely, Real Madrid CF”
Here’s hoping Mr. Perez continues as he is. He has spent, in his two terms as president, an estimated 697 million euros on new signings. True to his Galactico policy, almost all incomings were geared toward making a statement. Luis Figo was the first of these, followed by Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham. Raul and Roberto Carlos are not to be forgotten. In his second term, he continued with the signings of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. All paid for with big money. His dream? A team of superstars who would dazzle and delight the world with their brilliance.
And dazzle they did with the Champions League and 2 La Liga titles in quick succession. (2001,2002 and 2003). Perez wrecked a perfectly good formula however by sacking Vincente Del Bosque. This caused players such as Fernando Hierro and Makelele to leave the club. The new coach Carlos Quieroz was unable to handle the inflated egos of the Galacticos and the dressing room fell apart. They did not win any silverware for the next 4 seasons- shocking when you see the amount of money that had gone into this team.
To be fair to Perez, this project of his has helped rebuild the Madrid brand in the new millennium. Revenues have skyrocketed( RM are the richest club in the world according to Forbes) and the Bernebeau is almost always sold out. The Madrid team sheet on any day is enough to elicit a look of envy from almost everyone. Seen in that light, the decision to offload Ozil is nothing short of baffling.
Arsenal have got the Galactico policy to thank for that. Was it not for Perez’s ideology of buying ‘brands’ rather than value, we would never have gotten Mesut Ozil. Gareth Bale certainly is a brand right now, and could develop into a very good player given time, but as Arsene Wenger said, “They[Real Madid] are very generous” I’ve forgiven him for the bad faith he showed during the Higuain saga, and why not? He’s just given us arguably (although it’d be a VERY feeble argument) the best playmaker in the world- at less than half the value of Bale.
Jose Mourinho, Ozil’s ex manager said, “There is no copy of Ozil, not even a bad one.” Cristiano Ronaldo is planning the biggest ever tantrum in the history of football because he’s ‘angry’ at this transfer. Sergio Ramos has been absent from training for over a week now. Close friends say he’s curled up on his bedroom floor, wrapped in an Ozil shirt and gently sobbing into a pillow. A couple of ex Madrid directors have expressed their surprise and disappointment over the move. Madrid fans at Bale’s unveiling were heard chanting “Ozil is not for sale!” Arsenal steal Spurs’ thunder, yet again Infact, has anyone welcomed Bale yet?
Everyday I open the official Arsenal website and pinch myself in disbelief. The shock just doesn’t fade! And if shirt sales figures are any indication, it’s the same for all of us. There has been a twelvefold increase in shirts sold. The increase in revenue is reportedly <insert value> million.
There isn’t any doubt that Mesut is a top, top, top, quality player- the kind that Arsene Wenger speaks about in his press conferences. He’s also Like A New Signing because…well, he IS one! But I digress. Does the capture of Ozil represent significant ‘ambition’? is it a proper ‘statement of intent’?
Oh ambition! How I loathe that word. The reason for certain players’ departures( that’s what they said, anyway) and a favoured stick to beat the Club with. How many times have we heard the same old ‘Arsenal lack ambition, they’re happy with 4th place’ ditty?
Personally, this signing is neither a statement of intent nor a show of ambition. It is just what the manager said it would be at the post match Derby Day conference- a surprise. For me, a top quality signing has two criterions-
Improves the team: The most crucial requirement. Last season, there were some games where we struggled to create. Cazorla was the only ‘spark’- the sole creator(until Rosicky came back). Mesut’s stats as a playmaker are extraordinary. For example, he is the highest assist provider all over Europe in the last 3 seasons with 72. Numbers don’t tell you the complete picture however. Ozil’s vision and technique is currently second to none. With a counterattacking style like Arsenal’s, and with the freedom he’s going to get from the manager, there is quite literally no end to what he and the team could achieve. If you haven’t seen him yet, pray watch some highlight videos. Now, imagine that service to the Gunners’ forward line. Mesut is the fulfillment of a need.
Impact- The transfer has generated a hugely positive buzz around the Club. As evidenced by the shirt sales and the players’( and staff’s) reactions, everyone is massively pleased with this signing. It just feels wonderful to be an Arsenal supporter right now. Everywhere you see all of the football community talking about us. I can’t help but grin like an idiot everytime I see or hear the words ‘Mesut Ozil has signed for Arsenal from Real Madrid’. I’ve had absolute strangers come up to me to offer their congratulations. It has overshadowed Bale’s move, Spurs’ spending spree, Moyes’ and Mourinho’s appointments. There are envious gazes being shot all over the place, and we’re at the center of it. For once, there isn’t any negativity surrounding the Club. He hasn’t even kicked a ball yet. Signing of the summer? Without a doubt.
The general impression about Arsenal’s summer and Ozil in particular has been the ‘end of austerity’ and the arrival, atlast of a top quality player.
Firstly, Wenger has never shied away from spending money on players who are worth that much. Bids for Mata, Goetze and Suarez are all well chronicled in the media. All were in excess of 30 million. The fact that they didn’t sign on the contract seems to nullify the fact that efforts were made. Chelsea offered more wages to Mata, Goetze doesn’t want to move from Germany(yet) and Suarez’s agent has probably deceived us with the release clause game.
Secondly, this isn’t the only time the Club has attracted top players in recent times. Since 2011, we’ve brought in Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal and finally Ozil this time around. All well known, established internationals( Arteta deserves to be one) Players like this do not sign for you unless you’re going in the right direction, unless you have a definite plan- something else of which we have been accused times. That, and a top manager are essential to attracting players of the best caliber. As Ozil himself said, it was the manager’s faith in him and the vision of where Wenger wanted the club to be that influenced him. (obviously false, we all know Podolski AHA-ed him into it). Manchester United hasn’t had the summer they would have wanted. A major reason being the presence of Moyes- a relative lightweight in the managerial world.
The only negative(?) about this summer is the absence of a new(established) striker. It’s going to be tough getting by with only one proper CF. Giroud needs to keep extremely fit. If his past record is any indication( he’s only been out injured 5 days since 2005) it’ll be alright. We did try for a striker this summer and I remain positive about one in January. And hey, there’s always Bendtner.