Why Manchester United Should Return to Arsenal and Ask for Mesut Özil7 min read
It has been an eventful week so far for Manchester United after they announced they had signed Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal in a player swap deal where they sent Henrikh Mkhitaryan the other way.
This has been quite the saga surrounding Sánchez’s future, with not many believing he would be playing for the red side of Manchester. Pep Guardiola has admired the Chilean since spending time together at Barcelona, but the Spaniard missed out on signing him as Man City claim it was a ‘matter of principles’ that deterred them bringing the forward player in.
Özil can add new dimension to United’s attack
While the Chilean will bolster the Red Devils’ attack somewhat, José Mourinho will still be looking for a creator to hold the glue in place between the midfield and attack. Jesse Lingard is currently doing a stellar job of being that player, but the Portuguese boss will want another one in now that Mkhitaryan has left.
The most obvious choice, who can hit the ground running after spending time in England, is Mesut Özil. At this current moment in time, the German World Cup winner is a free agent come the end of the season due to his contract expiring.
If the state of play is that Özil becomes a free agent, there will be an unfathomable amount of clubs who will offer all that they can to try and attract the phenomenal playmaker to their club. The likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and others will make offers they think can entice the German international to their club.
‘Gentleman’s agreement’ could be best solution
Of course, in January, Özil is free to sign a pre-contract with a foreign club, as stated by the Bosman ruling. He can not, however, do the same for a club playing in the same country as Arsenal. The best outcome Özil could manage for Manchester United is to have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in place.Those ‘agreements’ are not legally-binding and will not have any jurisdiction in a court of law. It is simply just saying to a potential employer that you give them your word that he will join that specific club when the time comes to it. A lot of them are broken and things can change drastically, especially in football.
There have been murmurs to suggest that the former Real Madrid player is on the verge of signing a new bumper deal with Arsenal, though that has not been legitimised as of yet. Whether or not that is the case, an extension does not mean that the player will not move this summer.
In the past, there have been plenty of instances where players have signed contract extensions and then moved swiftly on, raising the price for any prospective club looking to purchase them.
It would have been thought that the Sánchez deal alone would have been impossible, especially after how crucial Robin van Persie was in securing what was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last Premier League title, but relations between the two clubs are professional and respectful. That has not changed since the Sánchez swap deal was negotiated.
Mourinho knows how to get best out of Özil
Even if Özil does sign a new contract, Manchester United should not be put off for going in for him this summer. Under Mourinho’s guidance at Real Madrid, the German routinely managed more than 25 assists for the season in all competitions. In the 2010-11 season, Özil contributed to 39 goals (10 goals, 29 assists) in 54 appearances – a staggering amount.
Özil already has the foundations to a successful partnership with Mourinho set in place from his time in Madrid, so it is just a matter of coming in and understanding the role of Man United’s players – this will have been helped by also having played alongside Sánchez for the past three years.
What the German can bring is his incisive array of passing that carves open defences with absolute ease. Özil successfully completes 3.4 successful key passes per game on average, which is the most amount from anyone in the Premier League.
The German occupies the middle of the penalty area incredibly well and has found most joy from making late runs into the box to evade his marker and get on the end of a low-drilled cross. Özil has a wonderful knack of understanding when the time is right to make the run or whether the best place to be situated is just outside the area, waiting for the rebound.
Purple – blocked shot
Green – goal
Red – missed shot
Blue – saved shot
He might not be the quickest, nor the strongest, but there are few midfielders who can match his intelligence both in terms of movement and with the ball at his feet.
Özil could add a lot to Manchester United’s team, but there will be stiff competition in the way of getting him. If the Red Devils do, however, sign him, they will be assembling a squad that has the firepower to compete with their across-town rivals next season.