Much has been made about how committed Arsenal’s players are to the cause, especially in the wake of a demoralising defeat in the North London derby and the gap to making the top 4 looking more and more insurmountable.
However, recent reports from the German press confirming Arsenal’s talismanic German playmaker Ozil turned down approaches from Barcelona, Manchester United, PSG and an astonishing £22 million a year to play in China shows he is committed to the cause.
Considering Alexis left to pick up around £500k per week at Old Trafford, Ozil’s refreshed contract worth around £350k per week suggests he hasn’t stayed for the money. While, of course, it is an absurd amount of money, in elite footballer terms it is around market value.
So the question is, with major clubs interested, and a second season out of the Champion’s League looking likely, how are Arsenal going to keep their star man and attract new players in?
One of the key changes that seem to have been put into place by the new arranged backroom team is an acceptance that Wenger’s current wage model just does not work. While you could applaud his idea that every player should be paid as roughly the same as possible, considering players are also business assets as well as employees, this is just not sustainable. The situation Arsenal have been in for many years is that they overpaid mediocre players and could not sell them, and underpaid star players and couldn’t buy or keep them. So the shift from selling Theo Walcott who was incredibly on £140,000 per week to allow Arsenal to give Ozil a pay rise, should, in theory, allow Arsenal to be more competitive in the transfer window.
But it is not just about wages, as many clubs can afford to throw far more money at players than Arsenal seem to be willing to do. The team needs to re-establish its reputation for playing fast, attacking, attractive football. For many years, players chose to play for Arsenal because of the style of football it played, and sometimes that is more important than being successful. Yes, you need to compete and win trophies, but compare Arsenal winning 3 FA Cups but regressing with its football philosophy to Liverpool or Tottenham who have won nothing but established an identity on the pitch. Now ask yourself, who would a player like Lemar rather play for? If Arsenal want to attract the next wave of talent, they need a combination of star power in the dressing room, a brand of football that players want to play, which, should ultimately show progression and lead to success.
If Arsenal want Ozil to stay, and keep others like Ramsey, Arsenal need to start showing ambition in their dealing off the pitch to ensure it transfers to ambition on the pitch. Players want to win, and if they think a club wants to win as well, then they will be willing to fight for success. Ozil obviously has been reassured, so much so, he has turned down more money and, you would think currently, better chances of success elsewhere to stay.
Let’s hope we fulfil those promises, as it can only mean better things for the club.