Arsenal fans have been made to wait two months, but their first marquee signing of the summer was worth it.
Having already missed out on stellar strikers Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney, Arsene Wenger appears to have finally found some joy… with another midfielder.
But never mind – the capture of Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil is just cause for giddiness among the Gunners faithful.
After batting away persistent questioning and vitriol all summer, Wenger and Co. have finally come up trumps with their spanking-new No.10 (who’ll, annoyingly, wear No.11).
With the Spanish giants signing Gareth Bale and Isco this summer, the talented German has become the sacrificial lamb for Carlo Ancelotti’s unforgiving new regime.
But after three seasons at the Bernabeu, Madrid’s loss is the Gunners’ gain.
While they’re still looking light up front despite a late attempt to snare Demba Ba on loan from Chelsea, the capture of Ozil alone has brightened the outlook in North London – especially if the in-form Olivier Giroud continues firing.
So how will he slot into Wenger’s rigid 4-3-3 at the Emirates? Well, about as comfortably as Cinderella’s ol’ size fives, you’d expect.
Arsenal fans are dreaming of the devastation to be caused by Santi Cazorla and his new chum at the tip of midfield with good reason – dependent on injuries and how Wenger chooses to play it, of course.
But you don’t pay £42.5m for a player who won’t play in his best position, which could mean a shift out wide for Cazorla if both Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta are fit.
Ozil, like his new Spanish team-mate, is predominantly a creator with the ability to chip in with his fair share of goals. No player across Europe’s top five leagues has fashioned more assists than Ozil's 47 since his move to Real Madrid - and that's why Wenger is likely to create a team centred around his precocious new playmaker. Indeed, since the 2008/09 campaign he's posted a minimum of 12 assists per season.
Against Espanyol last season, for example, he created a whopping 9 chances for his team-mates in Real’s 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu (none of which were converted). At home to Osasuna, meanwhile, 2 of the 5 opportunities he carved out were converted.
That’s helped by his set-piece skills – he was Madrid’s regular free-kick and corner taker – which is good news for Gunners fans tired of Theo Walcott’s less-than stellar deliveries.
With 84% passing accuracy last season, Ozil boasts a figure almost five percentage points higher than that of last season’s La Liga average – made even more impressive by his risk-taking position. More than spray the ball around comfortably in midfield, the 24-year-old makes things happen.
Against Mallorca last season (above) he was only on the pitch for the second half but grabbed 2 assists and completed 34 of 37 passes in an effective display.
His goalscoring record isn’t bad either – in fact, Ozil boasted La Liga’s best conversion rate last season after netting with 9 of his 30 shots (that’s 41% accuracy – better than Lionel Messi’s 35%).
As shown in the Stats Zone images above the Germany international is clinical when given the opportunity from shooting range. Note a lack of long-distance efforts too – perfect for Arsenal’s patient approach.
Simply, there’s absolutely nothing to dislike about this transfer from a Gunners perspective – and that’s rarely said where Arsenal fans are concerned. On the other hand Madrid supporters aren’t happy, and they take some pleasing.
The North Londoners won’t be knocking on the door of a first title in 10 years come May, but Ozil is precisely the type of signing the club have cried out for to at least stand a chance of competing where it matters.
Breaking their transfer record almost three times over will be worth every penny where this one’s concerned.
INTERVIEW Ozil on the art of being a playmaker
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