The long wait for Arsenal’s announcement is over, as they announce confirmation of Ozil’s departures for Fenerbahce. Long awaited for varying reasons, from a fanbase with varying views on Arsenal’s longest serving global superstar.
“7.5 years. 3000 days,” reflects Ozil, looking back at his time in north London in his good-bye tweet. 254 appearances and nearly 21,000 minutes played for the Red and White.
Can you pick a favorite moment — one of his 44 goals or 71 assists?The most cynical of people going through this divorce may select this moment, but in time that will likely change.
Others will gladly reach back into their memory and sift through an array of slick moments, only possible from a player with technical gifts like Mesut’s. His goal against Ludogorets in the Champions League, his famous “chop shot” and the goal it led to against Liverpool.
Do you go to the devastating team movements he helped orchestrate like when he helped tear apart the Foxes defense for a 3-1 win over Leicester City?
Maybe you’re a purist and the best moment was simply the moment it was announced that he was coming to Arsenal and it registered with yourself, and the world, that Arsenal could land such a transfer, even with the trophy drought they were going through. That they could entice a Real Madrid start to make the journey to the Emirates. The move was rewarded when Ozil assisted Arsenal in ending their trophy drought and helped bring 4 FA Cups to The Emirates — although the fourth may stand as a symbol of a weathered and tarnished relationship.
By his own admission, Ozil’s time in London was filled with a “mix of ups and downs”. It would be impossible to say otherwise. Ozil’s presence in the Arsenal squad became one of the most divisive arguments in football. Maybe only “Ronaldo or Messi” splits more people. Graceful, creative, technically superb — Ozil glided between the lines. On his best days he was unplayable, but those days became few and far between as time wore on. A fact that one side of the argument would be quick to add at a moments notice.
Does Ozil love the club? Why wouldn’t he leave if he loved the club so much? People often hold onto the things they love the longest. Of course the pay doesn’t make the decision to stay too difficult.
“It is difficult for me to put into words the love I feel for this club and the fans. How could I possible describe 8 years of gratitude in a single letter?”
“Hearing my name chanted around the Emirates will forever give me goosebumps, and the memories I’ve made putting on this jersey will stick with me for life.”
In the press conference following Arsenal’s win over Newcastle, Arteta stressed that Ozil was in Turkey undergoing his medical and dealing with some paperwork aspects. An example of Arsenal not announcing or confirming any deals, despite the clear promotion from Fenerbahce and Ozil, himself, of the deal.
Today that official announcement came from all three channels. Ozil’s farewell letter and tweet, a message from Fenerbahce, and a thank you from Arsenal.
Arsenal’s letter, at least this initial thank you, was far from the graceful, tear-jerker a person may have expected for a player that eclipsed 20,000 minutes for the club. A farewell and thank you that isn’t much different from the one posted when Sokratis or Kolasinac made their exit earlier this month.
It’s a clear sign that tensions between the two, and the worn down reck of a relationship this has become, has taken its toll on the club that likely felt held hostage. It’s important to remember that that “hostage situation” was, in large part, of Arsenal’s creation, even if it came long before this current regime of leadership.
A simple note of Edu’s thoughts on Mesut, Arteta’s thoughts on Mesut, and Mesut’s thoughts on Arsenal comprise the farewell. A blunt, factual layout of his stats and achievements to round things off at the end.
Technical director Edu said: “We thank Mesut for his huge contribution to Arsenal. He has made more than 250 appearances, played in three Emirates FA Cup final wins and has given the fans and everyone at the club many wonderful moments on the pitch since he joined us in 2013. We would like to thank Mesut and his team for their professionalism during our recent negotiations. I know everyone associated with Arsenal will join me in wishing Mesut and his family the best of health, success and happiness in the next chapter of his career.”Edu Gaspar, Thank you, Mesut; Arsenal.com
Mikel Arteta said: “Mesut’s achievements at Arsenal are undisputed. It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, coach him. His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt. Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins. These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce.”Mikel Arteta, Thank you, Mesut; Arsenal.com
A formality, really.
It always seemed Arsenal and Ozil were hobbling toward a bitter end. Many hoped things under Emery, then Ljungberg, finally Arteta would at least close off the relationship on a high. Instead, Ozil was dropped, dropped, and then dropped and unregistered by the trio of coaches. An unromantic end for a man that put romance in football and could make a city fall in love.
The understanding is that Arsenal will pay all, or most, of the remaining £7m on Ozil’s contract to release him from north London. Another player paid to leave by Arsenal this window, likely a product of successfully being granted a £120m Covid relief loan.
A decision that is likely best for both parties. Arsenal were desperate to move on from a contract they will consider a mistake they must learn from — although Willian’s contract suggests this regime hasn’t learned much — while Ozil deserves to spend his final years playing for a club desperate to see him wear the shirt, with fans pounding on the stanchions to sing his name around the pitch once again.
Fenerbahce will supply that in droves for the man they hope will bring them back to the top of the league.
In time, the heat and anger will fade. It may not be possible for his time at Arsenal to be talked about any more without mention of his contract and extended stay — a fact that will mar this legacy for many.
What we will be left with are the moments. The image of Ozil contorting his body to flick the ball through to find a runner perfectly in stride, the chop shots, the grace. The vision, the creativity — the adjectives. The adjectives that bring color to a man whose game has brought him an entire sports worth of accolades. The web of adjectives that describe just how good Ozil could be on his day.
Thank you, Mesut.