The Ozil-Wenger axis

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Shamik Chakrabarty | Updated: Sep 9 2013, 02:28am hrs
So, as it turned out, Mesut Ozil was just one convincing phone call away from leaving Real Madrid, so frustrated he became at the Spanish club. In pursuit of Gareth Bale, what Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and coach Carlo Ancelotti did to the German artist bordered on disrespect. Arsene Wenger came to know about Ozils availability late. He never doled out 42 million pounds for any footballer. But this man was special and Wenger picked up the phone just 24 hours before the transfer deadline.

Lengthy discussion followed in German. Its always useful to have a football manager with multilingual skills. Wenger described at length how he wanted Ozil to be the conductor of the show and the tip of his diamond. Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, too, spoke to their Germany teammate and as Arsenal were hosting Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates last Sunday, the clubs chief executive Ivan Gazidis was arriving at Madrid to seal the contract.

The deal proved that theres still fire in the old Wenger. No one ever doubted his ability. The 63-year-old has confirmed his place in football history by shaping the invincibles but, of late, Wenger appeared to be concentrating more on building the club finances than winning silverwares. He became a miser in the transfer market.

But eight trophy-less seasons were too much for the fans to accept and discontent was rapidly growing in the terraces. Wenger is in the final year of his contract and the #WengerOut hashtag was getting increasingly popular on Twitter. The great manager was accused of losing his ambition. But how well did he respond. Ozil has brought in a breath of fresh air and belief at the Emirates. And with just one signing, Wenger has once again made his club a Premier League title contender.

Real Madrids decision to sacrifice a gem has naturally irked the top stars at Santiago Bernabeu. He was the player who best knew my moves on the pitch. Im angry at Ozil leaving, Cristiano Ronaldo was quoted as saying.

Sergio Ramos said Ozil would have been the last person to leave the club if the decision were his to take. Barcelonas Cesc Fabregas, an ex-Gunner, described Ozil as the second-best player at Real Madrid behind Ronaldo. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho called him the best number 10 in the world and stopped Demba Bas loan move to Arsenal at the last moment because he feared the duo would give their London rivals a definite upper hand.

Ozil has earned this respect. He scores fairly regularly, but his ability to set up goals has made him extraordinary. His assist record reads 18, 20, 31, 26, 35 in the last five seasons. Almost every football academy in Europe uses his game as a model for the young midfielders. Ozil didnt want to leave Real Madrid, but once he knew he was no longer wanted, Arsenal became his only destination. This was despite the fact that Manchester United and Paris-Saint Germain had shown interest.

But the 24-year-old wanted to play under Wenger. At the weekend, I was certain that Id stay at Real Madrid, but afterwards, I realised that I didnt have the faith from the coach or the bosses, Ozil was quoted as saying. Im a player who needs this faith. Wenger gives me the faith and I can develop further. I know what I can do and I know that I could make the grade with any club in the world because Im so convinced in myself, he added.

Ozil would be the jewel in the crown in a very talented Arsenal midfield that also has Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and a vastly improved Aaron Ramsey. Theres almost a guarantee now that Arsenal would be the most attractive side in the Premier League.

They would be a huge force to reckon with as well with Ozil expected to make his dear pal Lukas Podolski lethal upfront. Another striking option, Olivier Giroud, too, has started off very well this season. And Wenger has also brought reinforcement in the rearguard with the signing of Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano. The latter is an understudy to the great Gianluigi Buffon in the Italy national team and is highly rated by the master.

After a long time, Wenger has shown intent and has given the long-suffering Arsenal fans something to cheer about. They were gutted to see Fabregas go and were devastated when the club let Robin van Persie join Manchester United for 24 million pounds last season.

True that Wenger has managed to keep the club in the Uefa Champions League for the 16th season running and has helped swell the clubs bank balance during this period. But the problem is that the fans turn up at stadiums to see their favourite teams winning and lifting trophies. Arsenals last major trophy came in 2005 when they won the FA Cup. The manager was running out of excuses.

Wenger has woken up from his slumber. Hes found his wallet. Over to Ozil now.