The whole idea of Arsenal bringing in a new manager to replace Arsene Wenger after 22 years in charge was to galvanise the club, and in particular a squad which had stagnated in recent years.
Unai Emery was the chosen one, and the Spaniard has brought with him a refreshing game plan focused on intense, high pressing which demands 100% effort and dedication on the pitch at all times.
Make no mistake, it is a needed culture shock for an underperforming team, all designed to help them take the next step up. Unfortunately, it looks as if Mesut Ozil – chief among the underperformers of recent years – is finding it very difficult to adapt.
The mercurial playmaker was anonymous in the season-opening defeat at home to Manchester City – although in fairness almost any player in the world would look as much against the all-conquering champions in their current form. But, it was his performance against Chelsea at the weekend that will be ringing Gooners’ alarm bells.
Ozil endured a miserable afternoon at Stamford Bridge, completing just 15 passes before he was hooked for Aaron Ramsey after 68 minutes. Hardly encouraging signs from a senior, experienced player this early under new management.
With new midfield signing Lucas Torreira now ready to start games and others in Ozil’s attacking positions performing well, it’s hard to see how he fits into Emery’s plans – particularly if they start winning again.
You’d think a sensible move would be for the club to cash in on the 29-year-old, helping to generate funds for Emery to continue his rebuild.
The one major issue with this plan, however, is that Ozil only signed a new long-term contract in February of this year.
Normally that would increase a player’s selling value, but this scenario is somewhat different. Rewind to the start of this year and, with just a few months remaining on his contract, Ozil had the club over a barrel.
Unable to risk the reputational damage of losing both Alexis Sanchez and Ozil at the same time, Arsenal eventually caved in to the German’s demands and agreed a new deal worth a staggering £350,000 per week.
If Arsenal were to try and sell now, the simple fact is they could never find a club who’d be willing to match those wages.
So how do you solve a problem like Mesut? Being the helpful folk we are, we’ve come up with four potential new career options for Ozil at the club to help him justify that hefty salary…
With 50 Premier League assists to his name – a tally he reached in record time, no less – there can be no doubting Ozil’s ability to be a helpful presence when he’s on form.
So if he’s struggling during matches, why not instead let him translate those assisting skills to personnel off the pitch?
We can picture it now: Ozil sat alongside compatriot Shkodran Mustafi, translating Football Defending For Dummies for his dear friend. If he manages to get through to him, that could help Arsenal actually start winning big games – more than justifying that £350,000 per week. It could be the perfect solution.
The new Gunnersaurus
Ozil was an instant fan favourite from the moment he arrived in 2013, but he became etched in recent club legend at the end of his debut season.
After helping to eventually see off Hull in the FA Cup final, Ozil looked down the club’s cameras and screamed the now immortal phrase, “Ya Gunners, ya!”
It became his catchphrase overnight, soon to be stuck on the end of every victorious tweet. Given its particular popularity with younger fans, it makes Ozil the perfect candidate to don the Gunnersaurus outfit and become the new club mascot.
So long as someone can put “Ya Gunners, ya!” on a portable speech bubble for him, anyway.
Social media manager
The importance of social media these days cannot be underestimated. It helps spread the club’s global brand awareness, with the ultimate aim of monetising them to boost the bank balance.
Ah, don’t you just love the romance of modern football?
Ozil clearly knows what he’s doing on social media. With 23.3m Twitter followers to his name, the midfielder boasts a full extra 10m devotees than the official Arsenal account. He also has a whopping 6m more Instagram followers than the club.
Give the man a laptop and Wi-Fi and soon enough Ozil will be harvesting those sweet, sweet #likes and paying back his wages with those extra merchandise sales.
A new Emirates Stadium statue
As part of the ongoing “Arsenalisation” of Emirates Stadium, he could join the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams and Herbert Chapman in having a statue outside the ground.
After all, he’s well versed in looking like a statue on the pitch, so it’s not too much of a stretch for him to stand still 24/7 as a profession.
He would represent those exciting times from when Arsenal finally broke their club record fee (previously a £20 found down the back of the sofa and some Emirates air miles) to sign him and usher in a supposed new era: no financial shackles and a statement the club was ready to step up and compete on the world stage once again, all spearheaded by a truly world class player.
That seems like a very long time ago, doesn’t it?