Arsene Wenger has finally found another quarterback.
With the news that Arsenal signed Real Madrid playmaker Mesut Ozil on Monday, Wenger can finally begin to appease some of his most ardent critics who have derided his lack of activity in the transfer market over the past few seasons. The bumper deal was confirmed by Arsenal.com.
Ozil gives the Gunners chief the quarterback his squads have missed since Cesc Fabregas left the club. The Germany international is one of the best playmakers in the game today, on par with Barcelona's Xavi and Juventus' Andrea Pirlo.
The Arsenal boss values his quarterback above all other positions. During an interview given on the club's preseason tour of Asia, reported by The Daily Mirror's John Cross, Wenger identified the quarterback as being vital to success:
You need one guy who can pass the ball - the quarterback - to one guy who can score the goal - the receiver.
Once you have a guy who can give passes to score, you will always have a chance to win football games. The rest is based on teamwork and attitude.
Quarterbacks don't come more prolific than Ozil. The mercurial 24-year-old is the most prodigious creator in Europe.
He gives Wenger the same creative fulcrum Fabregas provided for much of his career in North London. Ozil is the player who will live in the space between midfield and attack and expose defensive gaps via imaginative passing.
In fact, as good as Fabregas was, Ozil might be even better in the most important role in Wenger's team. Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph points out that Ozil has been a much more prolific creator in recent seasons:
Assists in last three seasons: Ozil for Madrid/Germany: 94 Fabregas for Barca/Arsenal/Spain: 49 #afc— Jeremy Wilson (@JWTelegraph) September 2, 2013
Using technical excellence to play between the lines is a staple of Wenger's vision of intricate and stylish football. Fabregas was once the inventive thrust, responsible for setting up goals for Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie, as well as countless others.
Before the Spaniard became conductor-in-chief, it was graceful Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp who was the provider. Bergkamp's precision and slide-rule efficiency provided numerous goals for a host of forward runners.
The likes of Marc Overmars, Nicolas Anelka, Henry and Sylvain Wiltord all profited from Bergkamp's classy supply.
But it was his partnership with Sweden attacker Freddie Ljungberg that personified Wenger's footballing philosophy. Bergkamp turned Ljungberg into a star. His creative quality dovetailed perfectly with Ljungberg's knack for intelligent off-the-ball runs. Any goal that had Bergkamp setting up Ljungberg out of a long run perfectly epitomized Wenger's vision for the game.
It is a creative through pass married to a pacey and intelligent run. That makes Ozil, like Bergkamp, a prefect fit in Wenger's system, and a dream signing.
He has spent the past three years playing through Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain.
With Ozil firing the passes, both Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott should see their scoring tallies increase significantly. There is also the partnership between Ozil and fellow Germany international Lukas Podolski, once Podolski is back from injury.
Arsenal already boasts talented flair players in attacking midfield areas. They have Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosikcy, along with Santi Cazorla.
Certainly, Cazorla is capable of exposing any defence. He has the technical guile Wenger craves. But he will now be partnered with a complementary schemer.
Cazorla is at his best when allowed to scurry all over the field. He is deadly when operating as a free spirit, able to add a flourish in every phase of the pitch.
Cazorla can be the Robert Pires to Ozil's Bergkamp. That would give Arsenal the formula they have lacked for too long.
Cazorla and Ozil are the creative duo who will make Arsenal a threat against anybody. Their fluid ability to drift into pockets of space will pose a nightmare for opposition markers.
With his quarterback now in place, Wenger can use Ozil to return the Gunners to their free-flowing best.