Arsenal

Why Per Mertesacker Is the Unsung Hero in Arsenal's Mesut Ozil Coup

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 13:  Per Mertesacker, Mesut Oezil and Lukas Podolski of Germany share a joke after victory in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group D match between Germany and Australia at Durban Stadium on June 13, 2010 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images
Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 3, 2013

Arsenal stunned world football fans on Monday evening by revealing the signature of Mesut Ozil, acquired from Real Madrid for a club-record £42 million fee.

The creative No. 10 opted to leave Los Blancos following the acquisition of Gareth Bale, as it became clearer and clearer that he wouldn't fit into the system Carlo Ancelotti favoured.

Bale's unveiling, in addition to the securing of Isco earlier in the summer from Malaga, essentially spelled out the end of Ozil's time as a Madridista.

"From our negotiations it is clear the Club has huge ambition and I look forward to being part of an exciting future," the German stated upon signing for the North London outfit.

The Gunners' new star wants to be loved, and he won't go short of it here—not only due to the fans excitement over a genuinely world-class player arriving, but also because of the family already in place.

Per Mertesacker is the unsung hero of this transfer, and it seems increasingly likely that the Mannschaft international is actually working overtime as Arsenal's chief scout.

First Lukas Podolski arrives, and given the extraordinary amount of time they spend together, it would appear they are the best of friends. The two form a big part of the club's dressing room harmony, and now they've added a third German to the fun.

Ozil, no doubt, will have been influenced by the presence of both Mertesacker and "Poldi" at the Emirates Stadium, and while the big paycheque will have been the biggest factor, don't underestimate the importance Arsenal's current employees can provide.

Ozil and Mertesacker were together at Werder Bremen, with the former signing for the club in January 2008. He stepped into the departed Diego's shoes and fired them upward, then shined during the Under-21 European Championships that summer.

The playmaker's choice of Germany over Turkey as his national team was widely criticised despite him growing up in Gelsenkirchen all his life and playing initially for his boyhood club in Schalke.

Mertesacker provided a veritable shoulder to lean on during this time, and Ozil has always been thankful for that. The beanpole centre-back's consistent presence in the German national team also meant that when Ozil linked up with the senior squad, a familiar face was present.

You often worry about how a big signing will settle, or whether a young player will feel the pressure and expectation of a big price tag.

Clubs often look to make them feel as comfortable as possible, and where Chelsea purchased Eden Hazard's brother Thorgan in the same window last year to ensure the brothers moved to London together, no such actions were necessary for Arsenal.

Big brother Per is in training with him from day one, can show him around and ensure he's happy. Podolski, on return from injury, can make it a jovial trio.

Ozil will settle quickly and produce from the beginning, and while he's certainly confident and headstrong enough to deal with the pressure, don't discount the family value Per and Poldi provide.

 

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